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Tips To Reduce Risk Of Skin Infections In Athletics

Source: National Athletic Trainers' Association

With fall sports well underway, it’s vital for athletes, parents, coaches and others to be aware of important recommendations to reduce risk of skin infections from activity. Athletes who play contact sports including wrestling, football, soccer, basketball, rugby and lacrosse have a higher risk of infection; as are gymnasts, and even those who weight train, because their skin comes in contact with shared equipment and mats.

Key Facts:

  • At any given time, one out of every three people in the United States suffers from a skin disease.1
  • Skin disease is one of the top 15 groups of medical conditions for which prevalence and health care spending grew the most between 1987 and 2000, exceeding spending rate increases for diabetes, cerebrovascular disease and cancer.2
  • The burden of skin disease extends beyond the financial toll, estimated at over $37 billion per year in medical services and lost productivity in the U.S. alone.1

Athletes are at risk of three types of skin infections:  fungal, viral and bacterial (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA). Close quarters or skin to skin contact in sports can make athletes particularly vulnerable to contracting skin diseases. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association recommends some key steps for schools, coaches, athletes and parents to ensure a clean sports environment:

  • Maintain clean facilities to limit the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Wash hands and shower after every sport activity.
  • Follow good overall hygiene practices and discourage the sharing of towels, athletic gear, water bottles, disposable razors and hair clippers.
  • Complete daily skin surveillance and report any suspicious lesions for treatment.
  • All clothing, gym bags and equipment should be laundered and/or disinfected on a daily basis.

1 Bickers DR, Lim HW, Margolis D, et al. The burden of skin diseases: 2004 a joint project of the Am At any given time, one out of every three people in the United States suffers from a skin
disease.

2 Thorpe KE, Florence CS, Joski P. Which medical conditions account for the rise in health care spending? Health Aff (Millwood). Jul-Dec 2004;Suppl Web Exclusives:W4-437-445.

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