Going to the gym regularly has many benefits for your health: working out regularly helps you reduce stress, increase your metabolism, maintain a healthy weight and build up your immunity to fight common infections. You know, those viral infections, bacterial infections and fungal infections that become even more common when the weather changes?

You workout to stay fighting fit, even when other people in the office or at home fall sick. And yet, the source of your good health and fitness - the gym - could also be a hotbed of infections!

Your neighbourhood gym sees hundreds of people using the same equipment throughout the day, making it an environment ripe for contracting nasty skin infections. If you thought workout injuries were the only cause for concern, think again.

Infections, however, shouldn’t stop you from continuing your journey to become fitter, as a few precautions - as well as healthy practices - should be enough to safeguard you from such setbacks. The benefits of fitness, after all, far outweigh the consequences.

So whether you’re beginning your fitness journey or are already a fitness enthusiast, or just visit the gym or your local yoga centre occasionally, there are ways to ensure good personal hygiene and keep these infections at bay.

  1. Types of gym infections
  2. Common gym infections
  3. Tips to prevent gym infections
  4. Takeaways of gym infections

You’re never too far away from another person in the gym, or their sweaty towels or the bench they just vacated for you. It also means your gym environment is infested with all kinds of fungal, bacterial or viral infections lurking somewhere.

While there can be many types of infections and illnesses you can bring back from the gym, some are more common than others. Of course, the common cold and flu are some of the most common varieties, but the human body is resilient enough to counter these pretty quickly.

Herpes - specifically herpes gladiatorum or mat herpes - though uncommon, was first noticed among wrestlers from the Roman era. Mat herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus type-1 (HPV-1), and can be transmitted through skin-on-skin contact in those who play contact sports like wrestling.

myUpchar doctors after many years of research have created myUpchar Ayurveda Urjas Energy & Power Capsule by using 100% original and pure herbs of Ayurveda. This Ayurvedic medicine has been recommended by our doctors to lakhs of people for problems like physical and sexual weakness and fatigue, with good results.
Power Capsule For Men
₹719  ₹799  10% OFF

Gym infections can be frustrating, as they can put you out of action for a few days or weeks - this can disrupt your fitness routine and you may lose some of the positive effects of exercise in your body. Here are some of the more common types of infections gym-goers can get:

Ringworm infection in gym goers

A common fungal infection, ringworm breaks out on the surface of the skin as a circular, scaly patch and can occur anywhere on the body. Also identified as a rash, ringworm also comes along with sensations of itching or burning.

The moist or wet environments in gyms, gym showers and fitness centres are perfect for the growth of ringworm. Damp clothing or sweaty skin in a gym can make things worse.

However, infection is more common among those who have a weak immune system. It can be treated easily with topical ointments and over-the-counter medication.

Read more: Ayurvedic medicines, treatments and remedies for itching

Itching under the breast fold or groin area could be jock itch

Another variety of ringworm, jock itch appears in a person’s groin region or under the bra line in the case of women.

Typically caused due to excess sweat in the folds of the skin, jock itch also presents as a skin rash with a circular and scaly appearance at first.

The sweaty confines of a gym or fitness centre are ripe for infections like these. And people who have had jock itch before are at higher risk of getting the infection again. The infection can also spread from one part of the body to another, simply through touch.

Read more: Homeopathic medicines, remedies and treatments for fungal skin infections

Athlete's foot infection in gym and yoga studio

Another ringworm offshoot, athlete’s foot gets its name from the fact that it is quite common among athletes. However, amateur sportspeople and more casual fitness enthusiasts may also get this fungal infection.

The key symptom is a raised, ring-like rash. Walking barefoot increases the risk for athlete’s foot. Although not common in gyms, walking barefoot is quite common in yoga studios, pilates studios and around swimming pools.

Doctors also put it down to personal hygiene, saying the repeated use of the same socks, sweaty shoes or the locker room you stow your belongings in, can also be culprits.

Read more: Ayurvedic remedies, medicines and treatment for fungal infections

Heat and sweat in the gym can cause folliculitis

While the previous infections listed here are primarily fungal infections, folliculitis can also be bacterial in nature. A common skin infection affecting the hair follicles, it usually appears in areas of the skin where there is terminal hair growth - it can also be mistaken for an acne breakout.

Symptoms include itching, acne-like growth with white heads or red bumps filled with pus, commonly caused by sweat and heat. Wearing tight clothing that retains sweat or moisture, use of damp towels or even shaving in the opposite direction of the hair growth can cause folliculitis.

Plantar warts in gym goers

Caused by a strain of the human papillomavirus (HPV), plantar warts usually show up on the balls of the feet or on the heel.

It is typically contracted by walking barefoot in places that are damp - like next to a swimming pool or the shower area of a fitness studio. Although not threatening, breakouts of plantar warts on the foot can become painful and be difficult to get rid of.

Plantar warts can spread easily. Hence, it is advised to always wear footwear in such environments, and wash hands and feet regularly.

Your dedicated workout plan - whether it is for weight loss, building muscle or recovering from chronic pain - can get derailed if you get any of these infections. Good hygiene, coupled with general cleanliness in your fitness studio, can go a long way in keeping you free from infections and disease. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • It’s generally a good practice to wash your hands after any activity, and working out in the gym is no different. Wash your hands before and after working out, and keep hand sanitizers handy at all times.
  • Always wear clothes made of dry, moisture-wicking fabric. Cotton tends to cling to the skin as you sweat.
  • Use towels, wet wipes or sprays to clean equipment before and after use.
  • Wear some kind of footwear in wet or damp areas like gym showers or next to the pool.
  • After a workout, take a shower with soap as soon as possible.
  • If you have any wounds or a bruise, keep it well-treated and covered so as not to leave it exposed to infection.
Shilajit Resin
₹845  ₹1299  34% OFF

Gym infections can be nasty, persistent and frustrating to get rid of. Besides, they can disrupt the best-laid plans to pursue an hour of training on most days of the week. While keeping the surrounding environment clean may not always be in your control, it is always a good practice to maintain good personal hygiene to keep such niggling infections away.

Find Sports Medicine Physician in cities

  1. Sports Medicine Physician in Jaipur


  1. Weissfeld A.S. Infections at the gym. Clinical Microbiology Newsletter, 1 June 2015; 37(11): 87-90
  2. Johnson, T.D. Stay healthy and infection-free at the gym. The Nation's Health (Journal of the American Public Health Association), August 2011; 41 (6): 32
  3. Millikan L.E. Athlete's Foot—Scratching Beneath Surface of Fungal Ailments. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 1975; 3(4): 51-56. Published online: 18 Dec 2017
  4. Davies H.D., Jackson M.A. and Rice S.G (Committee on Infectious Diseases and Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness). Infectious Diseases Associated With Organized Sports and Outbreak Control Pediatrics, October 2017; 140 (4)
  5. Blake Steele R., Taylor J.S., Aneja S. (2020) Skin Disorders in Athletes: Professional and Recreational Sports. In: John S., Johansen J., Rustemeyer T., Elsner P., Maibach H. (eds) Kanerva’s Occupational Dermatology. Springer, Cham
Read on app