Health Watch -- Sweat Alert!

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Could your sweaty workout clothes make you sick?

It's the time of year for two-a-day football practices for high-school athletes. That means it's also a prime time of year for sweaty football jerseys. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say those warm, moist clothes are prime breeding grounds for germs that could cause illness. Viruses and bacteria can grow quickly in that environment, and they can make you sick.

Dr. Luis Palacios, a UT Southwestern family physician, says when he sees athletes who seem to get sick a lot, his first advice is to get out of the sweaty workout clothes and take a shower as soon as possible. That gets the germs away from your body. Then launder the workout clothes before you wear them again. No leaving gym clothes in the locker until they can walk home by themselves, as some teens are prone to do.

High-school football players aren't the only ones who should follow that advice. Anyone who gets sweaty enough that their clothes get wet should shower and put on fresh clothes as soon as possible. The summer heat makes this a particularly sweaty season, but the advice always applies.

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but you shouldn't let your healthy habit make you sick. It's simple enough to shower, change clothes and wash your clothes after a workout.


Aug. 2004

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