Did I Get Ringworm at the Gym?

The itchy, red round patches known as ringworm are not actually the product of a parasitic worm despite its name. Ringworm is the product of a fungus which is known as tinea. This fungus is highly infectious and spreads easily especially in in conditions where there may be a build up of moisture. Gyms are one of the most likely places to catch a strain of the tinea fungus because they are full of equipment that can be covered in moisture. Mats, balls and floors provide comfortable homes for different types of tinea fungi because they attract moisture and are constantly being touched. If ringworm has been contracted it does require treatment, usually with a type of anti-fungal topical medication. The prevention of ringworm in a gym environment can be difficult but if gym-goers follow several basic steps they can usually avoid the unnecessary irritation caused by the tinea fungus.

Did I Get Ringworm at the Gym?It is important to change your clothes each time you go to the gym. It is important to wash and thoroughly dry both gym clothes and bathing suits after every use. Washing your gym bag and your shoes periodically can prove to be important as well. The fungus that causes ringworm enjoys damp and dark conditions like the depths of gym bags or lockers. Ringworm is highly communicable and leaving clothes on an infected floor can lead them to becoming infected with fungus.

It is also important to shower after every work out and depending on your susceptibility to fungus, using a quality anti-fungal soap may be required as well. When walking in the locker room or the showers, it is still important to wear sandals or shoes to protect the feet from picking up any tinea fungus hiding on the floor. Shampooing the hair can also be an important part of this process, particularly if you went swimming.

Using your own equipment can provide an important advantage in protecting you from ringworm infections. Using your own towel, yoga mat and your own toiletries will prevent you from having to share with anyone who is already infected with ringworm. It is also important to clean your things regularly- washing your towel after every use as well as spraying any mats or equipment your brought with you. A tea tree oil anti-fungal spray can make for a useful deterrent in keeping fungus of your mat.Did I Get Ringworm at the Gym?

Wiping any communal equipment in the gym is an important step in preventing any communicable disease in the gym. Using disinfectant wipes or sprays on the equipment can help prevent the build up of fungus on the machine and also prevent it from spreading around the gym. Remember to wash the equipment used in contact sports is very important especially equipment like helmets, gloves and eye wear.

Finally, avoiding direct contact with other gym goers may be beneficial, especially if one or both of you are sweaty after a hard work out. Make sure everyone is showered or clean before going in for a high five or a hug after the gym.

It is important to remember that ringworm is not visible right away and that someone can be contagious before they show any symptoms of ringworm. Symptoms can take anywhere from four days up to ten days to appear so take preventative measures to ensure you don’t unwittingly spread ringworm to other members of  your gym. If you or someone you know has an impaired immune system, take extra precautions because the risk of contracting ringworm might be higher than others.

Another important tip is to reconsider the way plastic bags are used. Reusing plastic bags can allow a lot of bacteria to grow in them and cause them to become contaminated. It is important to clean even the reusable bags along with the clothes or towels they may contain.