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Top 10 hygienic gym practices
Dr Paul Kolhe
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February 27, 2007

Most of us who care about our bodies, make it a point to work out regularly despite hectic work schedules.

However, besides our 'muscle health' the health conscious must also be conscious towards 'skin health', when they hit the gym.

Take these 10 precautions, to help ensure your skin stays healthy, during your workouts. 

Drink up!

Consume plenty of fluids before your workout to build up a fluid reserve in the body and continue tow drink throughout your exercise regimen.

Dehydration is the skin's worst enemy. You can drink water, electrolyte solutions (example: Electral, Vital-z etc), coconut water or energy drinks.

Hygiene, a top priority

Carry a gym towel each day and spread it on the exercise bench or mat that you are using. This will prevent you from catching any bacteria or fungus that the previous exerciser may have left behind. Wash your gym towels daily as sweat soaked towels are perfect for bacteria to grow in.

Gym etiquette

It demands that you wipe off your sweat from the machines' surfaces and handles after you have just used. Don't use your face towel to do this as you might transfer bacteria from the machines to your face.

Carry disposable tissues for this or a separate towel. For the same reasons, do not touch your face after using machines or weights as you can transfer infection to your face through your fingers and develop boils, pimples or fungal infections.

Socks 'n' shoes

Be particular about airing your shoes and changing socks daily as trapped sweat between the toes makes you pone to a disease called 'athlete's foot' (the name itself indicates how common it is amongst gymmers).

If you see any scaling, redness or itchy patches on your feet or whitening of skin between the toes, consult a dermatologist immediately.

Say goodbye to sweat

Sweat trapped under tight gym T-shirts and cycling shorts can cause fungal infections on the back, underarms, shoulders and groins. Dust yourself liberally with Abzorb or Candid powder before wearing your gym outfit.

If you see while patches or discolouration on the back or itchy, irregular, flaky patches at the groin folds or underarms; please DO NOT try to self treat with so called antifungal ointments that are widely advertised and promise to get rid of your embarrassing itches. Fungal infections need proper treatment by a dermatologist.

Hair dos

Shampoo daily if you work out everyday. It will help prevent greasy dandruff and scalp infections and does not increase your hair fall.

Keep running

Contrary to popular belief, jogging regularly on treadmills does NOT cause sagging cheeks, loose skin or premature ageing in any form. So run as much as you want.

Consult your doc

Do not use protein or dietary supplements indiscriminately without consulting your doctor. Some of them contain modified hormones that can worsen and cause outbreaks of acne.

Mind you nails

If you go for a massage, post-workout, cast a glance at the masseur's nails to check if they're neatly clipped and free from discolouration (which is a sign of fungal infection). Carry your own bottle of body oil.

In the jacuzzi

Jacuzzi's at your gym must be scrubbed out thoroughly with detergents two to three times a day. Do not use the sauna for longer than 20 minutes. Avoid it totally if you have a skin condition called acne rosacea (ie acne with redness of the face and dilated pores and blood vessels.)

Good health is a holistic concept. So, work out to maintain the health of not just your body, but of your skin, mind and spirit.

-- Dr Parul Kolhe is a practising dermatologist, with an M B B S, DDV and DNB in dermatology, and has worked as a cosmetologist with Nanavati hospital for five years. She can be contacted at (022) 25958412, 24506594.

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