So you love working out at the gym but hate it when you break out into fungal skin rashes? Then read on…this article is for you.
What is ringworm? Why do gym users get it frequently?
Do not let the word ringworm mislead you- this is not a worm but, in reality, a worm-like rash that appears to be red, raised, patchy, scaly and extremely itchy. Moreover, the rash also appears to clear out in the center and raised around its edges as a result of which its appearance is just like that of a worm.
The fungus causing ringworm thrives under moist and humid conditions- conditions that are exactly seen in a gym. Many gym owners are not too particular about cleanliness in their facilities. Their machines, weights, gym balls, yoga mats, treadmills and other workout equipment remain unclean for days, even weeks to come.
Ringworm is a contagious fungal skin infection. This means that the spores could come in contact with any healthy, uninfected person’s body. If this person happens to have all the right conditions particularly a weakened immune system, then s/he is very likely to get the ringworm rash on any part of his/her body.
Ringworm rashes could arise and affect any part of the human body. From the scalp, to the groin, to the nails or even the feet; ringworm can spread like wildfire from the infected parts to the healthy and unaffected parts. This leads to difficulty in treating the disease simply because containing it is full of hassles.
How to prevent and avoid getting ringworm at the gym?
Here are some steps every gym user must follow to avoid getting ringworm infection at the gym:
- Always wear clean exercise clothing each time you go to the gym for a workout. After you are home, toss the gym clothes in the washing machine. As far as the fabric can withstand it, wash the clothes in hot water. Also dry the clothing on the highest setting of the dryer. This will ensure eliminating all spores of the ringworm.
- Make sure you wash all your gym equipment including yoga mats, gym bags etc regularly as these items could also acquire ringworm spores from the gym flooring.
- As soon as you are done with your workout, take a hot shower. Try and use antifungal soap/ shampoo or body-wash, particularly if you are prone to dandruff on the scalp and fungal skin infections like ringworm. Apply the soap/shampoo all over and work up a rich lather. Allow the soap to remain on the skin for at least 5 minutes. Then wash off using hot water.
- Do not share your comb, brush, towel and other personal items with your friends or fellow gym users. This transfers the ringworm pores and spreads the infection. Also carry your own Yoga mat and towels.
- Another important thing to do to avoid getting ringworm at the gym is to carry a box of antibacterial/antifungal wipes. Wipe down all of the equipment before using it. This will get rid of the sweat left on the equipment so that you can considerably reduce your chances of coming in contact with the fungal spores.
- Carry a hand sanitizer and use it frequently to get rid of microscopic disease-causing agents. Use the sanitizer in case you come in skin-to-skin contact with other patrons of the gym. As far as possible avoid shaking hands or hugging other gym users.
- Carry separate plastic bags for separating used towels and sweaty clothes when bringing them home from the gym.
- If you suspect ringworm infection, make sure you start with an over the counter anti-fungal cream. If the rash worsens or does not seem to get any better, contact a dermatologist who might prescribe oral antifungal medicine to you.
Important facts to know about ringworm
Ringworm incubation period is anywhere between 4-10 days. So, just because you do not see their visible sign does not mean that you are fully protected.It is best that you continue following all the aforementioned precautions on a daily basis and each time you use the gym. People having certain immune deficiency disorders or even diseases like cancers, diabetes etc should be extra cautious and avoid exposing themselves to the fungal spores at the gym.
People participating in contact sports like wrestling etc are extremely prone to ringworm infections. Such sportspeople must exercise all precautions and hygiene practices such as washing gloves, clothes, mats, bags etc. Avoid these activities if you suspect ringworm.
These are some important precautions to follow when trying to avoid ringworm at the gym.