Charleston Dermatology Blog

Avoiding Skin Irritations at the Gym

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Exercising is a big part of health and being healthy positively affects your complexion. However, there are dermatologic pitfalls of going to the gym, and we’re not just talking about sprained muscles. Here are some infections that you may encounter at your exercise facility:

Athlete’s Foot and Jock Itch

These infections can cause rashes or scaly, blistered skin that peels. They can be caused by fungi that grows in gym items such as, wet floors and damp towels. Usually, over-the-counter treatments work well, but make an appointment immediately if it’s not gone within a few weeks. You might need prescription medication to get the job done.

Hot-Tub Rash

This infection is due to the bacterium Psuedomonas aeruginosa, which is found in hot tubs if chlorine is too low. Hot-tub rash appears as an itchy rash around hair follicles, and it usually clears up in a few days without needing treatment. If the problem persists, make an appointment so we can help with prescription ointment or medication.


Warning: Impetigo is highly contagious! It’s caused by staph or strep bacteria that makes its way into your body through open areas like a cut or bug bite. It can be transmitted through towels, equipment or skin-on-skin contact. It appears as a red sore filled with pus that opens easily. You should make an appointment as soon as you recognize the problem as you’ll need a prescription cream or oral antibiotic to conquer this infection.

Plantar Warts

Plantar warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts can be avoided by wearing flip flops in the locker room and shower. You may be able to treat plantar warts at home with over-the-counter products, but if that doesn’t work, make an appointment!

Staph Infections and MRSA

Studies have shown that a third of people carry staph bacteria and two percent possess MRSA. At first, it might look like an insect bite. If you think you may have this terrible infection, make an appointment immediately! If left untreated, MRSA can turn into sepsis, which can be fatal.

You can stay safe by taking the following precautions:

Protect your skin.

Keep open wounds bandaged and always wear flip flops or shower shoes.

Don’t use the gym mats.

A lot of gyms rely on class participants to clean their own equipment, but that’s not always a safe bet. It’s best to bring your own!

Do your laundry.

Wash and dry your gym gear at the hottest temperature that you can to kill the bacteria.

Don’t share.

Ignore what you learned in elementary school. Sharing is not caring at the gym. It’s a way to spread bacteria through towels and more.

Use common sense.

By taking care of your hygiene and showering after exercising, you can help avoid these infections.

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