Many people go to the gym to improve their health, but can sometimes end up with yucky, annoying skin infections instead. Taking the necessary precautions to avoid contracting any infections at the gym is often just as important as the exercise itself. These are five skin infections you might pick up at the gym – and the ways you can avoid them.

Staph: Clean Your Cuts

Staph is one of the more common bacterial strains found at the gym, yet the annoying, painful, pussy boils it can cause are completely avoidable. Since the infection moves through open sores, using band-aids on any cuts or nicks can help you avoid contracting the infection. However, in case others with a staph infection or open wounds have touched shared equipment, it’s best to disinfect any equipment and wash your hands frequently.

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MRSA: Wash Up After Workouts

MRSA, caused by the same bacteria that cause staph infections, results in painful, pussy boils developing on the skin. To steer clear of this infection, you should make sure to thoroughly wash any skin that has come into contact with shared exercise equipment following your workout. In addition, protecting any cuts is as vital to avoiding MRSA as it is to avoiding staph.

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Plantar Warts: Keep Your Shoes On

These yucky little warts form on the bottom of the feet and can become painful as they grow. To fend off your chances of developing any plantar warts, it’s essential to not remove your shoes while on the gym floor or in the locker room. Purchasing a pair of flip-flops or shower shoes for the communal showers are also extremely recommended.

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Ringworm: Disinfect Your Equipment

Ringworm is a type of fungus that appears as worm-width, red, scaly circles on the skin. Unfortunately, the gym is a massive breeding ground for it, especially areas that are soaked in sweat and moisture. In order to avoid catching ringworm, disinfect any moist equipment, mats, or floor spaces with alcohol, tea tree oil, or other disinfecting products before using them.

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Athlete’s Foot: Cover Your Feet

Athlete’s foot, originating from the same fungus as ringworm, causes a red, itchy rash to appear on the feet and toes. It thrives on wet, sweaty feet, making locations like communal showers at the gym a significant threat. Making sure to cover your feet in any public areas of the gym can help you avoid contracting athlete’s foot, as well as drying/replacing/washing socks in between workouts.

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