Germs Lurking In The Locker Room

An attractive man in a gym locker looking at his phone(BlackDoctor.org) — It’s not hard to find reasons to skip a gym session, but few of us would list health as a reason not to go.

There are tons of germs lurking all over the gym, from the weights machines to the stretching mats. Even if you’re diligent about wiping everything you touch with antiseptic spray or wipes (which you should be), it won’t get rid of everything.

Can Fungal Infections Make You Sick?

Fungal infections may look bad, but they rarely lead to more than itch and irritation. Unless you have a weakened immune system, your body is usually good at tackling infection before it causes serious illness. Still, if you’re worried about your jock itch, athlete’s foot, or any rash, talk to your doctor.

Fungal Infections Lurking At  The Gym:

  1. Athlete’s Foot:  Itchy, burning, cracked, and peeling feet? Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) usually develops between the toes and can spread via wet locker room floors, sweaty socks, and damp shoes. Prevent it by wearing shower shoes at the gym, washing your feet daily, drying them well, and wearing clean socks.
  2. Jock Itch:  A raised, itchy, red rash around your groin means you probably have jock itch (tinea cruris), which can affect men and women. It can be caused by sweating and the humid environment often created by athletic gear. You can prevent it by keeping your groin clean and dry, and wearing dry, clean underwear and loose pants after a workout.
  3. Ringworm:  Ringworm (tinea corporis) isn’t caused by worms. This raised, red, circular, itchy fungal infection — usually with clearer skin in the center — can occur on the body or scalp (tinea capitis). You’re at greater risk if your skin is often exposed to a warm, moist environment and you come in contact with ringworm from a person or pet. Prevent it by showering after sweating, then drying well. It’s easily spread, so don’t share towels, combs, or other personal items.
  4. Nail Fungus:  Brittle, discolored, thick nails may mean you have nail fungus (onychomycosis). Though more common in toenails, fungus can affect fingernails too, and is encouraged by warm, damp conditions. Prevent nail fungus by keeping nails short and wearing clean, dry socks, and changing them often. Wear wide-toed shoes (so toes aren’t crammed together), and don’t share nail clippers.

Fungal Infection Prevention

Caring for Gym Clothes
Change out of your gym clothes right after a workout. Sweaty gear provides a perfect home for fungi and other germs to thrive and grow. Wash exercise clothes after each use. Wear clean clothes before each workout.

Hygiene at Home
To prevent fungal infections from taking a foothold at home, your best defense is to keep skin clean and dry. Change underwear and socks daily. Let your sneakers air out and wash them regularly. Take your shoes off at home to expose your feet to the air.

Gym and Locker Room Hygiene
To fight fungal infections at the gym, wear shower shoes in the locker room and avoid sitting on wet benches. Don’t share workout mats or towels. Wash your hands before and after a workout, and don’t forget to wipe down gym equipment before and after using it.

Treating Fungal Infections

Despite your best efforts at prevention, you think you have a fungal infection. Now what? First, talk to your doctor. Other skin problems can look a lot like fungal infections, but require different treatment. For mild infections, topical medication may be all you need. More serious problems could require oral prescription drugs.

SHARE YOUR OPINION

Would you subscribe to a service where you can see a black doctor anytime via video chat for $19 a month?

Nighttime Cravings: Feed It Or Fight It?

woman kneeling in front of refridgerator at night(BlackDoctor.org) — Developing healthy eating habits is an important key to maintaining weight loss and fighting unhealthy cravings. But sometimes…it’s 11pm and that pint of ice cream just won’t stop calling your name! What are you supposed to do?

Is Snacking At Night All That Bad?

Many people overeat in the evening because they have not consumed enough calories during the day. Skipping breakfast, starting the day with foods high in sugar, and limiting your food to lose weight all make it harder for your body to sustain itself later into the evening.

Besides hunger, a nighttime snack can stem from stress, boredom, or habit.

“Emotions and feelings like depression, anxiety, sadness, and frustration also trigger eating, particularly in people who have not developed healthy coping strategies to deal with negative emotions,” says Cathy Leman, RD, a personal trainer and owner of NutriFit, Inc.

Leman also notes that any positive psychological effects of eating tend to wear off quickly, leaving the person with a full belly, stressed digestive system, and unsettled sleep at night.

“Eating at night when you aren’t hungry feeds a vicious cycle,” says Michelle May, MD, author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. “You wake up in the morning feeling guilty and not hungry for breakfast, so you starve yourself all day to pay penance and binge again at night, or by mid-morning you are starving so you grab whatever is in the break room — usually doughnuts or bagels — which begins a downward spiral of overeating and guilt that lasts into the night again.”

If You Must Nibble At Night…

In general, you should stop eating two hours before your bedtime – this helps to avoid those unpleasant feelings of bloating and stomach pain the next morning. Assess why you really want to eat. If you’re just bored or stressed, find something to do that doesn’t involve food, such as taking a soothing bath or reading a book. But, if you truly are hungry, try drinking a full glass of water. Then, if you’re still hungry, eating something very light, like a very small salad or a piece of lean protein, like an ounce of tuna, chicken breast or turkey.

A nighttime snack isn’t always harmful, but if you understand the reasons behind late-night eating and then modify your diet accordingly, chances are your midnight cravings won’t be quite as bad.