5 Tips to Avoid Skin Infections at the Gym

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.

You got yourself to the gym. That's great. But did you ever think how your effort to stay fit might lead you into a fight against infection? The National Athletic Trainers Association published a paper this June explaining how to avoid catching the skin diseases (MRSA, herpes) that spread in gyms. We first saw it in this New York Times article and wanted to bump down the lessons from the NATA paper to the basics. Presenting five tips to keep your skin happy and healthy when you work out. Soak it in, then sweat away.

1. Wash your hands.

So your mom told you that a thousand times, but she was right. Wash your hands with antimicrobial soap after you touch the gym equipment.

2. Shower right when you're done working out.

Wash up ASAP with antimicrobial soap. Don't forget to thoroughly wash your undercarriage and between your toes.

3. Don't share.

No, you're not being a jerk. Avoid sharing towels, athletic gear, and water bottles. It's nice your gym provides towels for you, but you don't know what's living in them. Better to bring your own.

4. Separate your workout clothes from everything else.

Best to keep your sweaty clothes in another bag entirely, but if you don't want to look like a your snagging bags, put your wet stuff in a plastic grocery bag first. There, you just recycled.

5. Avoid whirpools and common tubs.

If you have any scratches, scrapes or wounds, stay away from group whirpools and tubs–you never know what could be swirling around in there.

As Steven M. Zinder, a trainer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and chief author of the new paper, said in the NYT article, “It’s what we all learned — or should have learned — in sixth-grade health class.” 

–Erin Beresini

promo logo