Returning to the gym after staph?
May 18, 2013 3:15 PM   Subscribe

I'm recovering from a staph infection. When will it be safe for me to return to the gym/pool?

A week ago, I scraped my foot and picked up a nasty staph infection; my entire foot swelled up and turned bright pink in a matter of hours. I was prescribed oral antibiotics and instructed to stay off my foot whenever possible.

As of today, I have four days of antibiotics left (and yes, I plan to take them all). The infection seems to be gone; my foot is no longer swollen or painful. The wound isn't completely healed over, but I've been keeping it bandaged and changing the bandage daily.

Normally, I work out at either the gym or the pool five times a week. I haven't been since I picked up this infection, because I don't want to give it to anyone else. (For the record, I was traveling when my foot got infected, so I don't think it's likely that the staph was from my gym or pool.)

How much longer should I wait before I go back? I'm assuming I should wait until I've finished my antibiotics and the scrape is healed, but should it be even longer? Or sooner? Is the gym safer than the pool? Everything I've read about staph and the gym is focused on avoiding getting it in the first place, which is not much help in my situation.

YANMD, though you may be a fellow gym-goer.
posted by Metroid Baby to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm really cautious about this sort of thing, but even after finishing the antibiotics, I would avoid the pool until the scrape was healed. I'd also avoid any barefoot activity at the gym. For anything else at the gym, I'd cover the scrape with a large Tegaderm patch (with some gauze, just to keep it from sticking to the scrape) under a sock and shoe until it's fully healed.
posted by WasabiFlux at 3:58 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Here's a CDC fact sheet [PDF] about pools and staph.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:11 PM on May 18, 2013

Please do not enter a pool with an open wound. The gym should be fine if the wound is bandaged and covered with clothing.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:12 PM on May 18, 2013 [9 favorites]

If it makes you feel better (it won't) you probably brought the staph with you rather than picked it up on location. It's commonly found around the anterior naris and your postauricular regions. (AKA your nose or behind your ears.)

That said, it's absolutely person-to-person contagious and while we're all packing some with us, that doesn't mean we should share our extras (no matter what they say on Sesame Street). Another vote for WassabiFlux's advice.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:51 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had a minor staph infection recently and was advised to stay out of pools/hot tubs until the antibiotics course was done and the wound had healed over entirely (the doctor was more concerned about the possibility of reinfection than of spreading the infection to others, since staph is commonly found on the skin of perfectly healthy people). If the wound heals fully before the antibiotics are done, I might give it a day or two more to be really certain the infection is gone, but that would be erring on the side of extra caution, as it sounds like you're healing pretty well.
posted by EvaDestruction at 6:02 PM on May 19, 2013

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