Wrestlers use strength, agility and finesse to wrestle for victory against their opponent. In every practice and match, skin-to-skin contact between two players is inevitable. This environment of skin and sweat is a breeding pool for organisms such as bacteria, fungus, and viruses. No big deal, right? Well, the answer is a qualified yes. The truth is most skin infections found in wrestlers are minor and typically only become serious if not diagnosed and adequately treated. A simple small scaled patch on an arm can spread easily to the team, parents and siblings. When it comes to skin infections, knowledge is power. Preventing a skin infection is much easier than treating one.
Prevention is key. Skin infections should not be a cause of worry nor a deterrent for your child’s participation in wrestling. Some helpful prevention strategies are check, report, clean and avoid.
Check the skin daily throughout the season.
Report any suspicious skin lesions to your certified athletic trainer, coach, or primary care physician.
Clean and wipe all mats before and after each practice. Clean the practice and game gear daily in the laundry. Clean the skin in the shower with antimicrobial soap immediately after practices and games. Clean the hands with soap and water frequently.
Avoid sharing items such as towels, razors, athletic equipment, water bottles, and hair clippers. Avoid total body shaving which allows organisms to breed easier. Avoid common whirlpools or tubs with active skin lesions.
Microbial skin overgrowth causes blisters, boils, crusts, pocks and rings. Viruses trigger skin blisters and skin pocks. Boils and crusts on the skin are typically a result of bacteria. Scaled skin rings are a consequence of fungus. All may start small but have the potential for widespread infection.
Remember, the sooner lesions are reported and treated, and the sooner your child is back wrestling or participating in any sport for that matter! Check out the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) website for more information on Ohio High School Rules and to view the Clearance Form.
Amy Elizabeth Valasek, MD, MSc is a physician for Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine and an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. She is fellowship trained and board certified in sports medicine.
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