When you shower at home, you're barefoot, so it only makes sense that you'd hop into a gym shower the same way, right? Well, it sounds reasonable, but you totally shouldn't do that.
A Texas man who was training for a half marathon forgot to pack his gym shower flip-flops one day. Since he was hitting the gym during his lunch break, he decided he'd go ahead and shower anyway because he didn't want to return to work smelling all funky. Unfortunately, he got wayyyy more than he bargained for.
According to the anonymous story he sent into his local radio station, he soon developed a firm, itchy spot on his foot. It wound up being a plantar wart, and he then tried a ton of home remedies over the following six months to get rid of it. Once his race was over, he decided to seek professional help, and it pretty much went downhill from there.
If you want to take a look at his feet in various stages of infection and healing, several photos are available, but be warned — they're not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.
The first doctor treated it with an agent that caused blistering, hoping to kill the virus and shed off the wart. That didn't work; the virus spread and he sought a second treatment — by which time he had five warts. The treatment caused intense pain, and to top it all off, it still wasn't working. He decided to undergo surgery (including skin grafts) to remove the massive painful warts, and his road to recovery has been long, hard and very stressful.
Long story short: Don't shower in public places without proper footwear. Plantar warts, like all warts, are caused by the human papillomavirus (also known as HPV). While the HPV strains that cause plantar warts aren't super-contagious, they do tend to thrive in warm, moist environments — kind of like the floor in a gym locker room. Additionally, skin that has been in contact with water for a long time (such as from swimming or damp feet from sweating during exercise) can also contribute to the ease of transmission.
You can also pick up other nasties from a shower floor, such as the aptly named athlete's foot. While this easily spread fungal infection may not be as severe as what the above man experienced, it's still highly uncomfortable and gross.
So, flip-flops in the shower it is.
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