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Unforeseen Danger at the Gym


If you’ve joined a gym, you know the standard contract you sign relieves the facility of liability for personal injury under a variety of circumstances, such as injuring yourself while incorrectly using the machinery. However, Consumer Reports discusses a new type of threat at the gym – one that leads to serious skin infections.

Researchers are finding that certain areas at the gym are breeding grounds for certain types of germs, such as 25 types of bacteria present on exercise equipment, toilet handles, and handrails. The most prevalent type of bacteria found was Staphylococcus (“staph”), a common source of skin infections. Gyms provide a perfect breeding ground because many types of bacteria thrive in sweat and warm, moist areas. Staph, in particular, has grown resistant to antibiotics, and can live on exercise machines and other equipment for days.

Common Infections & Treatments

The most common skin infections you can get at the gym include:

  • Athlete’s Foot & Jock Itch: skin typically develops an itchy rash which can blister. Wash the area well and treat with an over-the-counter antifungal containing clotrimazole, terbinafine, or miconazole;
  • Pool & hot tub rash: Caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa when chlorine levels are too low. This same bacteria can also cause a “swimmer’s ear” infection in the outer ear canal. Hot tub rash can appear as a bumpy red rash in the swimsuit area and develop into what appears to be folliculitis. It will typically clear up without a specific treatment;
  • Impetigo: Highly contagious and caused by staph or strep; typically spread through broken skin or a cut, through contaminated sports equipment or towels. It starts out as pimple-like sores with pus which break open and form a yellowish-brown crust. You will need a prescription antibiotic cream to treat;
  • Plantar warts: warts on the bottom of your feet caused by human papillomavirus from walking around barefoot in the locker room. Typically, a callus forms which is painful to walk on. Treat with an over-the-counter product with salicylic acid for several weeks unless you suffer from diabetes, as a serious foot infection poses a particular threat;
  • Staph Infections & MRSA: Staph typically lives in the nose or on the skin. While most people carry the common staph bacteria, approximately two percent instead have the antibiotic-resistant form (MRSA). You must see a doctor for antibiotics if you have one of these infections; MRSA in particular can turn into a life-threatening infection.


Before you join a gym, it is worthwhile speaking with management there about the gym’s cleanliness and how to keep yourself protected. Also, always bring your own towel, mat, etc., and constantly wash after using the equipment. 

If You’ve Been Affected, Speak with an Attorney

If you or a loved one has been wrongfully harmed by an infection obtained at the gym, you should speak with an experienced personal injury and commercial litigation attorney right away. Contact the attorneys at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan today to find out how we can help.

For more information and in depth analysis, please contact Attorney Ken Ronan at and Case Manager Richard Bagdasarian at


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