We think of the shower as a place to rinse off the dirt, get clean, and make a fresh start. However, something unexpected may be lurking.
Fungal, bacterial, and viral infections can often be acquired from floors in public showers, such as those at pools, gyms, or dorms. As these organisms thrive in warm and moist environments, infections can easily spread from one person’s feet to the shower floor, and then onto your foot.
- Athlete’s foot
Also known as tinea pedis, this is the most common infection you might pick up in the shower. It is a fungal infection that manifests primarily as scaling between the toes or on the bottoms of the feet. If left untreated long enough, it can lead to difficult to treat toenail infections.
These infections in the skin are caused by a family of viruses called HPV. They show up as rough and scaling bumps on the bottoms of the feet. They can spread to virtually any other area on the skin.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. MRSA infections commonly involve the skin, but serious infections can affect internal organs as well. When the skin is involved, infections can appear as swollen, red, and tender bumps in the skin that look like pimples or spider bites. They can turn into deep, painful abscesses that may require antibiotics or surgical draining.
The good news is that infections like these can often be treated with over-the-counter medications. If your condition doesn’t improve within two weeks, or if you develop a fever or other concerning symptoms in association with your skin disease, you should see a doctor.
The best way to avoid contracting something from a shared shower is to thoroughly disinfect the floor. Shower shoes or flip flops can provide good protection. Be sure to wash or disinfect them regularly.
Keep the condition of your feet in mind. Those with cuts, blisters, or other wounds on their feet are more likely to pick up an infection in the shower.