Our Bethesda podiatrist has a warning for you: it isn’t just water that’s swirling down the drain in a public shower or locker room shower! Sweat and skin cells combine with water, and some people (though we hope not many) urinate in the shower as well, whether accidentally or on purpose. Various strains of mold, algae, and fungi either grow in moist environments or are carried there on people’s bare feet.
Additionally, people come in from the outdoors wearing their street shoes in the locker room, and the locker room leads to the shower…so you can assume that outdoor contaminants are making their way onto the public shower floor, too. Those contaminants might include dog feces, pesticides, E.colibacteria, ringworm…and a variety of other unpleasant germs and pathogens.
If none of this sounds appealing, our Bethesda podiatrist suggests a few steps you can take to avoid coming into contact with contaminants. The floors in public showers and locker rooms usually are cleaned with strong detergents that eliminate most germs – but how frequently and thoroughly they are cleaned can vary greatly from establishment to establishment. You can’t rely exclusively on the gym or public space to do the cleaning, but there are things you can do to keep your feet safe. Here are some Do’s & Don’ts to consider when using a public facility or gym locker room:
What You Should Do, According To Our 5-Star-Rated Bethesda MD Podiatrist
- Wear flip-flops or waterproof sandals in a public shower or locker room.
- After showering, dry feet thoroughly (including between your toes) with a clean towel to help prevent athlete’s foot.
- If you had athlete’s foot in the past, you are clearly susceptible, so consider applying an antifungal foot powder before putting shoes back on.
What You Should NOT Do, According To Our 5-Star-Rated Bethesda MD Podiatrist
- Even when not showering, avoid placing your bare feet on the floor.
- Don’t step barefoot on the floor if you have an open sore on your foot. Pathogens can enter your body more easily through an open wound, which may lead to infection.
- Even if you don’t have an open sore, avoid going barefoot, because athlete’s foot infection can be spread easily from one person’s feet to the shower floor and then to someone else, even if that second person has no open sore.
Though athlete’s foot is not life threatening, the cracked, itchy skin that it causes between toes can make you miserable – so it’s an infection you definitely want to avoid. When it comes to fungal infections and athlete’s foot, prevention will keep you safe from avoidable foot problems. Check with your Bethesda podiatrist for additional tips – or if you think you may be vulnerable to foot infection.
The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about this and other topics related to foot and ankle care, feel free to contact The Podiatry Center, with a convenient podiatry office location near Bethesda MD, by clicking here or by calling 301.656.6055.