Germs Lurking in the Locker Room

Can fungal infections make you sick?

Posted: 09/06/2011 07:33 AM EDT

 It’s not hard to find reasons to skip a gym session, but few of us would list health as a reason not to go.

There are tons of germs lurking all over the gym, from the weights machines to the stretching mats. Even if you’re diligent about wiping everything you touch with antiseptic spray or wipes (which you should be), it won’t get rid of everything.

Can Fungal Infections Make You Sick?


Fungal infections may look bad, but they rarely lead to more than itch and irritation. Unless you have a weakened immune system, your body is usually good at tackling infection before it causes serious illness. Still, if you're worried about your jock itch, athlete's foot, or any rash, talk to your doctor.

Fungal Infections Lurking at the Gym:


1. Athlete's Foot: 
Itchy, burning, cracked, and peeling feet? Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) usually develops between the toes and can spread via wet locker room floors, sweaty socks, and damp shoes. Prevent it by wearing shower shoes at the gym, washing your feet daily, drying them well, and wearing clean socks.

2. Jock Itch:  A raised, itchy, red rash around your groin means you probably have jock itch (tinea cruris), which can affect men and women. It can be caused by sweating and the humid environment often created by athletic gear. You can prevent it by keeping your groin clean and dry, and wearing dry, clean underwear and loose pants after a workout.

For more on germs and the gym, visit BlackDoctor.org.

(Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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