wrestling-skin-diseasesWrestling Sport Found to Be High In Skin Infections, study says.

Recent survey found high school wrestlers have the highest amount of infections and football players come in second,according to researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

The study used data of U.S. high school from the past five years.  73.6 percent of skin infections were initiated from wrestling. 17.9 percent of skin infections were from football. The neck and head were the most common infected locations.

“Given the nature of the sport, it’s not surprising that wrestlers suffer the most skin infections,” said Robert Dellavalle, MD, senior author and associate professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “Most of the infections were bacterial and fungal.”

Generally, wrestlers could return to practice three to six days after the infection but sometimes the infections were more serious.

“While most skin infections require a week recovery on average, others may have more serious eye and neurological involvement from a primary HSV,” said study co-first author Kurt Ashak, a fourth year medical student at Michigan State University who helped conduct the research during a recent dermatology rotation at CU Anschutz.

Researchers looked at 22 high school sports and found 474 skin infections reported during 20.858,781 ‘athlete exposures’ (AE) or one athlete participating in one practice, competition, or performance. Of the 22 high school sports, 474 skin infections were found in 20.858,781 ‘athlete exposures’ (AE) or a practice, competition, performance of one athlete.  28.56 per 100,000 AE is the rate of skin infections for wrestling.  2.32 per 100,000 AE is the rate of skin infections for football.  1.00 per 100,000 AE is the rate of skin infections for other sports or some had no rate.

About 60.6 percent of the skin infections preceded ringworm at 28.4 percent.  5.2 percent of infections were of herpetic lesions (cold sores and fever blisters) and 3.2 were a variety of infections.

Kyle Burton, fourth-year medical student, co-first author of the study, recommends athletes shower after a competition, if they can.  The next best option is to use soap and water skin wipes.  Wipes have shown to reduce skin infections.  Additionally precautions are to have referees perform routine mat cleanings in between wrestling matches.  This is already a common practice, says Dr. Dellavalle.  He recommends a thorough headgear cleansing, since most skin infections are on the head and face.

“Wrestlers are not rubbing their heads and faces on the mats,” he said. “The problem may be not keeping headgear properly cleaned before each match.”

Additional ways to protect the body from infections is through maintaining healthy skin and a strong immune system.  Learn More.

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