Have you ever been at the gym, gone to use the bench press and noticed somebody else’s sweat on the headrest? I have, and it’s gross. It begs the question, what if I touch somebody else’s sweat at the gym, can I catch anything?
- What can you catch from coming into contact with other peoples sweat at the gym?
- Certain infections harder to kill due to overuse of antibiotics
- How you can limit your chances of coming into contact with a nasty bacteria
Many gyms are making it mandatory for its patrons to wipe down equipment after use with a sweat towel, but is this enough to avoid catching something?
Is coming into contact with other people’s sweat just an occupational hazard that cannot really be avoided in a public gym environment?
What is the risk factor of somebody else’s sweat?
At the gym, you’re asked after you’ve used the equipment to wipe it down for the next user. Great idea unless you actually want somebody else’s cold sweat on you. But is there a real risk here?
The sweat of the Olympic wrestlers in the study contained the hepatitis B virus. This means that if anyone comes in contact with that infected sweat, and then it enters your bloodstream through broken skin or mucous membrane then you could contract the virus.
Staph Infections and MRSA
These are more of a growing worry today among medical professionals. Staph Aureus is a bacteria that has spread more and more dramatically over the last ten years. They were once only really a found in hospitals but they have been increasingly found in other places in the community. These bacteria can cause skin infections from draining sores to acne-like outbreaks or in the very worst case scenario can cause a deep infection known as cellulitis.
What makes this worse is that overuse of antibiotics has meant that some strains of staph cannot be killed by commonly used antibiotics. The MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus)bug is even harder to kill therefore requiring even stronger and more powerful antibiotics.
Staph infections are common in gyms. Reiterating the fact that adequate attention to hygiene is so important.
A fungus that causes a range of skin infections is ‘Tinea’. Tinea pedis or ‘athletes foot’ is the most common infection from the gym environment. This bacteria hangs out in the bathroom and shower areas and gives the victim a very itchy flaky skin rash. But an infection in other areas of the body is actually known as tinea corporis or more commonly known as ringworm. Ringworm is highly contagious and appears as a dry rash with raised edges in a ring shape. See image.
When you come into contact with HPV it causes warts on your feet. You can pick this up from walking around barefoot in showers and gyms.
Often overlooked. A yeast infection of this type left untreated leads to itchy, red, skin rashes in particular areas such as the underarms or the groin where the skin folds and the bacteria has a warmer environment to multiply and grow.
This bacteria causes raised, pearl spot-like modules on the surface of the skin. These bumps can be smooth and many times have an indented center with white discharge.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF? 10 Tips
- Wash your face and hands before and after workouts.
- Avoid touching your face during workouts. If you are a nail biter, stop. If you do come into contact with somebody else’s sweat the last thing you want to be doing it smearing it all over your face or putting it in your mouth.
- Wipe down gym equipment before and after you’ve used it. Some gyms provide tissues for you to do so. Check this out before signing up if you can.
- Go for moisture wicking workout gear to help draw sweat away from your body.
- Lay a towel on equipment such as the bench press so as to avoid coming into contact with other people’s sweat.
- Carry a little bottle of anti-bac sanitizer in case you touch somebody else’s sweat. And rub it on your hands regularly.
- Use flip flops in the shower and try to avoid going barefoot
- Shower as soon as you can after your workout.
- Don’t share towels
- If you do notice a rash that you think could be a skin infection, see a doctor and don’t leave it to clear up on its own.