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Contagious Skin Infections in Wrestling: Twelve Step Prevention Program

With wrestling season about to get underway, parents, coaches and wrestlers need to remember the relatively simple steps that can be taken to avoid the spread of communicable skin conditions, such as community-acquired methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus ("CA-MRSA")

During a presentation on Infectious Skin Diseases in Athletics to the National Athletic Trainers' Association 2010 Annual Meeting in June 2010, R. Robert Franks, D.O., FAOASM, Assistant Director of Sports Medicine at the Cooper Bone and Joint Institute in Philadelphia, proposed the following twelve-step skin infection prevention program:

  1. Check for skin breaks and/or abnormalities. Avoid body shaving.

  2. Report, examine, clean and treat all wounds appropriately.  All wounds should be covered securely before wrestling.  The NFHS and NATA recommend weekly screening of wrestlers by a certified athletic trainer or team physician to check for signs of skin infection.

  3. Wrestlers must have a physician's note that clears him of infectious disease before s/he may weigh in or participate in activity. 

  4. Encourage showering with antimicrobial liquid soap (not bar soap) immediately before and after each match or practice.

  5. Avoid abrasive uniforms and wrestling gear which may cause skin irritation and allow susceptibility for infection.

  6. Never share equipment and/or uniforms.

  7. Keep uniforms clean. Use detergent with bleach and dry clothes on "high" setting.  Cean practice and match wear should be separated from dirty clothing when taken to and from school .

  8. Wear shirts with sleaves and sweatpants during practice.

  9. Keep nails trim.

  10. Never share towels or soap.

  11. If a skin lesion is present, dry it with a towel to avoid spread of the disease.

  12. Clean and disinfect wrestling mats, locker rooms, weight rooms and showers before and after each event according to interscholastic athletic association guidelines.  Cleaning should be done with an anti-microbial by janitorial staff, not the wrestlers themselves.  The use of a bucketless mop with washable, replaceable pads should be used in order to minimize cross-contamination across the mat surface
For more detailed advice on preventing and treating CA-MRSA and other infectious skin diseases, click here.

Updated October 26, 2010


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