Updated 03 March 2014

Don’t catch these gym bugs

You could be exposing your skin to a host of germs while you exercise.

Yoga mats. Shower floors. Dumbbells. You could be exposing your skin to a host of germs while you exercise. Here, dermatologist Dr Dagmar Whitaker gives the low-down on how to treat the common skin problems you can pick up at the gym:

Skin problem: Warts are caused by a virus. They look like the calluses your feet develop from running, but can be painful and are highly contagious.

How you get it: Showering barefoot in the gym. The virus favours areas of pressure, so will usually start on the forefoot where the skin is thickened.

Treatment: If you catch warts early, Occlusal works. Note: SA has a shortage of topical treatments, so a good alternative is Duofilm.

Skin problem: Foot fungus mostly occurs on the toenails, especially in those who’ve fractured a nail while playing sport. It can also occur on the skin, making it dry and itchy.

How you get it: Wearing tight, sweaty shoes, or from bacteria in pools – fungus needs moisture to develop.

Treatment: Lamisil treats foot fungus – the spray works best.

Skin problem: Staph, also known as impetigo, causes crusted red lesions and boils, usually on the arms and leg.

How you get it: It’s highly contagious and can be transferred by touching infected people or equipment they’ve used.

Treatment: Contact your dermatologist as soon as possible for antibiotics.

Skin problem: Acne mechanica is caused by heat, pressure and friction and shows up on your shoulders, back and head.

How you get it: Exercising in tight workout clothes or protective gear, as well as sweating.

Treatment: It doesn’t respond well to OTC treatments. Consult your dermatologist.

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