Hidden Gym Danger Zone

Hitting the showers can put your health at risk if you don't follow certain precautions. That's because:

  • Gym showers are slippery and slick.
  • Wet, warm tiles and shower drains are the perfect breeding ground for fungus, ringworm, bacteria, and viruses.
  • You probably don't know who bathed before you and you never know what germs may lurk in the shower.

Abide by these ten tips to stay clean, healthy, and safe in the gym shower:

1. Wear shower shoes. Wear flip-flops or shower shoes and keep your feet away from direct contact with the shower floor. Make sure your shower shoes have anti-slip tread to help you avoid slip and fall accidents.

2. Wash your hands before and after you touch any gym equipment, door handles, or bathroom surfaces.

3. Carry antibacterial wipes. Decontaminate handles on shower faucets and doors before you touch them.

4. Use your own soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Don't touch the shower gel, soap and lotion containers in your gym. You don't know who's hands have touched it.

5. Use your own razor, comb, brush, and other personal items. Don't risk getting infected or infested by using other people's personal care items, even if they belong to someone you know. Bacteria and viruses can breed in microscopic skin cells left on razor blades. Lice are most commonly transferred through shared personal items like brushes and combs.

6. Don't be so friendly. Don't lend your stuff to anyone, even your best friend or workout buddy. Establish a no-share policy when it comes to gym clothes and personal hygiene supplies. Just tell them a friend of yours got something icky and you don't want to risk it.

7. Take two towels. If your gym provides clean towels, take two-one to put down on any surface you'll sit or stand on and another for drying off. Or, bring two of your own.

Never sit directly on a spa or shower bench if you're naked. There are lots of potential contaminants that might be left by the last person who sat there.

8. Don't use the gym as your main shower. The gym shower is great for a quick wash after a workout, but your home shower is a safer and healthier place for thorough cleaning and grooming. The less exposure you have to other peoples' germs at the gym, the better.

9. See a doctor if you feel itchy, notice any rashes, bumps, sores, pimples, skin lesions, or have any unusual symptoms. Most skin infections are easily treated with medication. Some, however, like MRSA-a serious antibiotic-resistant bacterium-are particularly dangerous and difficult to treat.

10. Stay home if you're sick or suspect you have anything contagious. You never know who'll touch something after you've left your germs on it.