In The Gym

Skin infections are a common risk among athletes. Anyone who plays sports is susceptible for ringworm, impetigo, herpes gladiatorum, and staph germs that lead to boils. Staphylococcus aureus is transmitted through close contact with someone who has a lesion that is actively draining. Such infections look like pustules or turn the ugly purple of boils. Areas of infection are painful, red, and swollen.

Today, MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) has emerged as a major cause of skin infections such as these. An MRSA infection will require evaluation by a doctor in order to make the diagnosis and prescribe the appropriate antibiotic treatment.

Shared Responsibility

There are many factors that aid the spread of infection among competitive sports athletes. These include shared equipment or clothing, direct contact with infected skin, and trauma to the skin incurred during sporting activities. If your child is an active athlete at his school, you may want to check the school's policy regarding prevention measure. These should be a shared responsibility between all the parties: school administration, coaches, parents, and players.

Players must be vigilant about hygiene. Showers should be required of all players following game practices and competitions. Athletes must be watched to make sure they don't share personal items such as towels, bar soap, or deodorant.

Personal Gear

The players need to be responsible for their personal items and clothing. They should always don clean clothing for events and practices and their equipment must be clean, too. Personal gear such as pads and uniforms and underwear should all be laundered after each use. 

Athletes and their parents need to learn how to identify and be on the watch for breaks in the skin or rashes, informing their coaches should any active skin infections be found. Often, there is a team physician or an athletic trainer who is trained to diagnose and treat these problems. If there is trauma to the skin, such as a cut, rash, or infection, the area must be cleanly bandaged until such time as the skin has recovered and the athlete cleared to return to sporting activities.

Regular Cleaning

The school should enforce a regular schedule for cleaning the surfaces of all items used for sporting activities. This includes mats, gear, and benches. Any surface coming into regular contact with athletes' skin must be given a regular cleaning.

Educating the players about these issues helps them understand the necessity for vigilance in these matters. They should be taught how to prevent unnecessary risks for exposure. When everyone involved follows these guidelines, it's a sure thing that infection rates will plummet.