There are numerous dermatologic conditions that can arise in athletics. The majority of them are spread through close contact and open wounds. The best way to prevent such conditions from spreading is early diagnosis, treatment, and proper hygiene.
Athletes may follow the Skin Infection Prevention Program
- Check skin daily for breaks or abnormalities.
- Make sure all wounds are reported, examined, cleaned and appropriately treated. Cover all wounds, including scrapes, scratches and cuts securely before competition.
- Have your physician evaluate any skin infection or lesion. The athlete must have a NJSIAA physician release that clears the athlete of contangious disease before they may compete in an event or participate in any practices.
- Shower with soapy water immediately before and after each event.
- Avoid abrasive uniforms and equipment which may cause skin sores and predispose athletes toward infection.
- Never share equipment or uniforms.
- Keep uniforms clean.
- Wear full lengh pants and long sleeve t-shirts, especially during practice sessions.
- Keep nails trim an clean.
- Never share towels or soap.
- If a skin sore is present, dry the infected area last with a towl to avoid spreading the infection to uninfected areas.
- Make sure athletic equipment, locker rooms, weight rooms and showers are disinfected beore and after each event.
Kimmel, Craig MD. A guide to Infectious Skin Diseases in Wrestlers. Memorial Health Alliance. 1999.
The following are four major dermatological conditions which need to be recognized and treated early to prevent spreading to other athletes.
Methecillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA):
Most individuals carry MRSA, but it never causes us harm. However, sometimes the bacteria gets inside the body through open wounds or close contact and can cause infection. Anyone can get MRSA. MRSA has become resistant to most antibiotics.
MRSA can be identified by the following: Sores that look and feel like spider bites (MRSA is NOT caused by spider) Large, red, painful bumps under the skin (called boils) A cut that is swollen, hot and filled with pus Blisters filler with fluid (called Impetigo)
An active MRSA infection can be treated by one of the following: Drain the infection Give antibiotics Reduce the amount of bacteria on your skin (clean with antibacterial soap and water, antibiotic ointment)
Caused by bacterial infection. Usually spread by direct contact, open wounds, or from contaminated equipment. The rash generally begins as small red blisters on somewhat reddened skin. The blisters usually break open and form a honey-colored scab that may itch. Diagnosis must be confirmed by a physician. Wound cultures are generally done to confirm diagnosis. ntreated, impetigo may cause serious medical problems, including kidney damage. Treatment usually includes antibiotic pills and usually resolves itself within two weeks. Small sores can treated with antibiotic ointment.
Ringworm (tinea corporis) is a fungal infecion which can be found anywhere on the body. It is called “ringworm” because of its circular appearance on the skin. It is caused by a plant fungus which grows on the skin. There are NO worms in ringworm. The rash is more common in warm climats. Ringworm is spread to humans by dogs or cats, especially young ones. It may be spread by direct contact from an infected towel or mat Ringworm is charcterized by a rash that usually begins as a flat, scaly spot or spots in the shape of a small red or brown circle. The rash spreads as an enlarging circle witha scaly border and may have small bumps or blisters on the leading edge. As it grows, the center fades to a lighter brown or red. Diagnosis can be made by means of a physician through examination or rash scrapings under microscope. Sometimes, cultures or biopsy specimens are required. Treatment of mild cases can be treated with creams such as Lotrimin or Nizoral. They should be used 2-3 times per days for 2-4 weeks or until 1 week after the rash completely disappears. Severe cases may require the treatment of an oral pill consisting of antifungal agents (Griseofluvin or Nizoral tablets) and may take up to 3 months to clear up.
Herpes simplex is a viral infection. There are two types of Herpes Simplex (Type I and Type II). Type II is commonly associated with genital herpes and Type I is associated with cold sores and fever blisters. Both types of herpes viruses can inect any part of the human body. The herpes somplex virus is highly contagious. It can be spread through direct contact with an acute rash or rash fluid, respiratory secretions. Within 2-24 hours of inection, most individuals will develop flu like symptoms before the rash starts. The athlete may develop fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, swollen glands, or sore throat. The rash may begin as a burning or tingling sensation on the skin. Small red bumps form, which become clusters of tiny blisters filled with cloudy fluid. THe skin surrounding these blisters is generally red and inflammed. The blisters collapse and form yellow-brown scabs within 2-4 days. The scabs will generally heal within 2 weeks. There is no cure for herpes simplex and will generlly reoccur. Most physicians will diagnose a pill called Acyclovir (Zovirax) which can decrease symptoms, but not cure herpes simplex.