Have you ever been making dinner and suddenly realized you’re in the same workout clothes from this morning’s sweat sesh? If you’re an a.m. fitness buff, it can be pretty easy to run a few errands after your workout without changing clothes. No harm in that…right? While your to-do list may benefit from skipping the line to the shower, your skin most certainly won’t.
Keeping your leggings and tank on after hitting the gym can bring about a plethora of issues ranging from clogged pores to athlete’s foot. Here, Los Angeles-based dermatologist Shirley Chi, MD shares her intel on why parking it in your sweaty workout clothes post-workout isn’t a great idea.
Keep scrolling for why you should change out of your sweaty workout clothes and hit the shower.
Gyms can be a breeding ground for germs
Remember the jeans laced with lotion? Yeah, well you’re going to wish that your leggings came laced with antibacterial gel. With so many people coming in and out of the gym, and touching everything in sight, the weights and equipment could be teeming with germs that could get you sick. “Gyms, in general, are very dirty places,” says Dr. Chi. “There are all kinds of germs that are at the gym that are disease-inducing.”
No need to start building out your Shark Tank business plan for those leggings just yet—there are steps you can take while at the gym to ward off any germs the person before you may have left. Dr. Chi recommends bringing an extra towel and laying it over any machine seats before sitting down (same for that loaner yoga mat). This ensures that your clothes don’t make direct contact with the seat—just make sure you always put the same side of towel down every time.
You can get sick
Any germs or fungi that has found its way to your leggings after the gym can stay there and fester if you don’t remove it and wash your clothing and your skin. Germs or fungus from the gym can cause rashes, colds, athlete’s foot, and MRSA, which is a form of the staph infection. “MRSA is a superbug infection because it is a resistant bacteria. It can manifest as something that looks like a boyle or a spider bite,” says Dr. Chi. Yeahhh, not a great trade off.
The best way to fend off these things and do your fellow gym-goers a solid at the same time? Change your clothes, take a shower, and wash your hands. “If you’re sitting around in sweaty clothes and you’ve been to the gym, you’re basically sitting around in germs that could potentially come in and cause infection.”
Pick the right fabrics
Tightly-knit fabrics that are meant to trap and wick away sweat can sometimes have lingering bacteria that cause an odious side effect, as well as skin issues. “The sweat that has oil and dirt in it clogs up the pores. It causes things like acne and folliculitis,” says Dr. Chi.
Dr. Chi recommends clothing that’s lightweight, so that it airs out quickly and doesn’t trap sweat against your skin, clogging your pores. It’s also important to bring a change of clothes to the gym that are looser, which allows skin to breathe, helping you finally ditch those red folliculitis bumps once and for all.
Remember your post-workout self-care
It’s helpful to think of your post-workout shower as part of your cool down. You just killed a workout and did something really amazing for your body, so take some time for yourself after the gym to feel fresh, clean and confident for the rest of your day.
If you can’t hop in the shower immediately after a workout, Dr. Chi recommends changing your clothes and at least washing your hands within 30 minutes of your workout. After you do shower, take care of your skin. “I always recommend that you moisturize right after you shower. If your skin is dry, it’s more easily nicked, and it’s also less of an effective barrier against germs transmitting. They can actually penetrate easier in dry, chapped skin.” Always remember, a little self-care goes a long way.
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