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For many students, participation in athletics is an important part of their formative years. Kids acquire knowledge about teamwork, sportsmanship and much more. However, there are some things we don’t want kids to acquire — such as skin infections.
Because many sports, like wrestling and basketball, involve contact with other players, athletes are at more risk for developing some types of skin infections. Parents, athletes and coaches should be aware of common types of infections to prevent spreading the condition.
Skin infections, particularly in athletes, are a serious problem. Statistics show they account for up to 10 percent of time-loss injuries in some sports and can cause serious illness.
Common types of skin infections
The three most common infections are:
Staph is a bacterium. It is sometimes resistant to certain types of antibiotics and is called methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Staph typically causes one or more painful sores, with pus surrounded by redness, and is sometimes associated with fever.
Herpes is the same virus that causes cold sores in the mouth. It typically causes one or more painful blisters with clear fluid surrounded by redness.
Tinea (ringworm) is a fungus on the skin that causes itchy, dry, red, circular patches.
Fortunately, relatively simple measures can prevent skin infections from being passed among athletes. Hand washing and showering after practices or meets are the most important measures. In addition, athletes are advised to make sure they cover sores or wounds with a water proof bandage, avoid shared personal items like towels or razors, avoid sharing lockers and wash their clothing after each practice or game. It’s also crucial to promptly seek medical attention with any new skin problems so that infections can be caught and treated early.
Athletes should inform their health care provider if they are participating in competitive sports. The provider will recommend whether or not the infection will temporarily prevent the athlete from participating in competitions or practice. It’s important to keep yourself and your school environment as healthy as possible.