Skin Infections

Wrestling has the highest incidence of skin infection of all high school and collegiate sports. This makes sense, due to the close proximity of wrestlers to each other, and the wrestling mats. Heat, humidity and breaks in the skin from trauma predispose wrestlers to infection. Skin disease accounts for 20% of lost mat time due to illness and injury. In addition, as athletes become fatigued, they become more susceptible to infection. Infections are usually bacterial (impetigo), fungal (ringworm), or viral (Herpes Gladiatorum).

Prevention Is Paramount

Do not share equipment, towels, or clothing.

Shower promptly after practice with antibacterial soap.

Wash all clothing and equipment between uses.

Clean mats between uses.

Most Common Conditions

Impetigo is caused by staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria and causes blisters or scabs that then form a yellow crust. Treatment is with topical and/or oral antibiotics. Before a wrestler can compete, all lesions must be scabbed (no oozing) and no new lesions can have occurred in the last 48 hours. This may take 3‐10 days of antibiotic therapy. Some patients become infected with resistant strains of bacteria, which can be more difficult to treat.

Ringworm is actually not a worm at all, but a fungus, and it forms a scaly red ring with central clearing. It is the same fungus (Tinea corporis) that causes jock itch and athletes foot. Treatment is topical or oral antifungals. Athletes can return to sport after 3 days of treatment for skin lesions, 14 days for scalp lesions.

Herpes Gladiatorum is a Herpes simplex virus that is highly contagious and is incurable. It presents as painful clear, fluid filled blisters or bubbles atop a reddened base. It then ruptures and becomes a painful crusty scab. Treatment is based on prevention of outbreaks and shortening the duration of symptoms using antivirals such as Valtrex.  An athlete may compete three days after the last lesion has completely healed, or after 5 days of oral Valtrex treatment.

Most Uncommon Condition (regardless of what you read on Google)

MRSA aka Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus is a severe bacterial infection that common antibiotics cannot treat. MRSA lesions often look like spider bites. This highly contagious and potentially dangerous infection MAY NOT be covered for competition. It typically develops quickly from small light colored pustules that become red and possibly black.

If you are concerned that your wrestler may have a skin condition please feels free to discuss it with one of our experienced coaches.  We will be happy to take a look and get you the proper referral.


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