Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), however, is another story. Unlike the other strains of staph, this one is, as its name implies, resistant to most antibiotics. As a result it has a higher likelihood of causing complications if it enters your bloodstream through an open wound—think pneumonia or sepsis (yikes!).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that two in 100 people carry MRSA. So with a crowded locker room where hundreds filter in an out each day, it’s a good idea to avoid sharing towels, razors, or any other objects that may have touched an infected area of someone’s skin.
Consider that wet towels can provide MRSA with a comfortable breeding ground, so don’t use the same towel you worked out with to dry off after a shower, suggests Westenberg. Always wash any towels you’ve used in the locker room or on the gym floor with hot, soapy water or bleach.
MRSA and other staph infections typically appear as a bump or infected area on the skin that’s red, swollen, painful or warm to the touch, or teeming with pus. Staph infections may also be accompanied by a fever.
Call your doctor immediately if any of the above apply to you.