Monday, September 4, 2017

The Dirty Details on Gym Germs

You’re constantly surrounded by germs, whether you know it or not. For example, 33,200 is the estimated number of bacteria on your phone. Pretty gross, right? Well did you also know that is estimated that your work desk may be even dirtier with up to 400 times the amount of bacteria found on a toilet? Before you start frantically cleaning your phone and desk, make sure you don’t overlook one of the dirtiest places you spend your time—the gym.

But when you think about the fact that several hundred people are using the same shared space, while they’re hot, sweaty and probably dirty, too, it’s no wonder gyms are so germ-filled.

While you may be too grossed out to think of going to the gym right now, if you follow these simple steps, you can make sure the next time you go, the only thing you’ll be picking up is a good workout. Here’s what you need to know:

Feet + Fungus = Athlete’s Foot

It isn’t just bacteria that thrive in environments like the gym, fungus does, too. Specifically, you’ll want to be extra careful in the locker room, sauna, swimming pool and showers as warm, wet areas are a fungi’s best friend.

Avoiding fungus is pretty simple, just be sure to avoid contact with the fungi by wearing sandals or shoes of some kind. While you can get fungal infections in other areas, it’s most common to pick it up on your feet.

Bacteria + Skin = Staph Infections

Staphylococcus aureus, everyone’s favorite bacteria—not. As a bacteria that naturally lives on the skin and nose isn’t usually serious, but it can cause rashes, pimples and boils on your skin that are painful and irritating. Because staph can be transmitted just through contact, if you have even a microscopic break in your skin, you can pick it up on anything from exercise equipment to a shared towel.

To steer clear of staph, make sure to avoid sharing personal items, like towels or razors. It’s also a good idea to wipe down any exercise equipment that others have been using with a disinfectant to kill the bacteria and prevent it from spreading.

Klebsiella + Nose = Pneumonia

It isn’t just pneumonia that this bacteria is responsible for causing, it can also lead to a variety of infections like urinary tract infections and even meningitis in some cases. Because this bacteria can cause such a wide variety of conditions, it’s important to note that the type of infection that is developed is based on how it enters the body (e.g., if it enters through your nose, you’ll likely get pneumonia).

Similar to staph, klebsiella can be spread simply through contact. This means that any surfaces, ranging from shared exercise equipment to water fountains, could have the bacteria. It’s a good idea to wipe down these surfaces with a disinfectant to avoid contact with it, but you should note that klebsiella can be tougher to treat than staph.

Virus + Bare feet = Plantar Warts

HPV, most commonly known for causing genital warts through sexual transmission, but this doesn’t mean that this is the only form of HPV or that you can only get it that way. In fact, HPV is actually a family of viruses that can cause a variety of different conditions, including warts on your feet, also known as plantar warts. This form of HPV can be spread from skin-to-skin contact, as well as from contact with contaminated surfaces on the bathrooms and locker rooms—we’re looking at you showers.

Similar to the candida fungus and athlete’s foot, you can avoid picking up HPV by wearing sandals and shoes in bathrooms, locker rooms, saunas, pool areas and showers.

Streptococcal + Skin = Blisters

It’s likely that when you hear step, you first think of strep throat or pneumonia, but that isn’t the only thing that these bacteria can cause. Because strep is an extremely contagious bacteria you easily pick it up a variety of ways, including skin contact, airborne water droplets and shared surfaces. The good news is, though, that strep doesn’t always cause something as serious as pneumonia, it may be something minor like a skin infection or blister.

You guessed it, just like the other gym germs, it’s best to avoid strep by wiping down shared surfaces with a disinfectant. And why not throw on some shoes while walking around warm, wet areas, just for good measure?

We fight dirty.

Of course, we could probably continue going on and on about the additional germs you can find at the gym—e. coli, hepatitis A and cold and flu germs—but we figure it’s time to focus on something positive instead, like getting rid of them.

That’s why ChoiceOne Urgent Care, a partner of Gwinnett Medical Center, should be your top choice when it comes to treating common conditions and illnesses. Whether it’s a skin infection, including bacterial and fungal, or step, the experienced specialists at ChoiceOne Urgent Care can help. With convenient hours and locations, you can get the care you need exactly when you need it.