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AAD: Athletes at Higher Risk of Contagious Skin Infections

Last Updated: February 09, 2011.

 

Skin-to-skin contact of athletes increases the risk of bacterial, viral, and fungal skin infections

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Athletes are at a higher risk of contagious skin infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi due to the physical contact common in many sports, according to data presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, held from Feb. 4 to 8 in New Orleans.

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Athletes are at a higher risk of contagious skin infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi due to the physical contact common in many sports, according to data presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, held from Feb. 4 to 8 in New Orleans.

Brian B. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine, discussed skin conditions resulting from skin-to-skin contact among athletes and how to prevent outbreaks in sports teams. In his presentation, Adams said that wrestlers as well as other athletes with skin-to-skin contact are at a higher risk of developing impetigo. Impetigo may be caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. In a recent review of the occurrence of MRSA infection, Adams and colleagues found that physical contact, shared facilities and equipment, and poor hygiene all contribute to the incidence of the infection.

Adams noted that the herpes simplex virus is commonly transmitted among athletes and that it must be detected and treated quickly to prevent the spread of the virus among team members. Tinea corporis, also known as ringworm, is a common fungal infection that is characterized by an itchy, red circular rash with clear skin in the middle, which can be treated with topical or oral antifungal medications. Finally, Adams discussed the common fungal infection of tinea pedis, also known as athlete's foot.

"Athlete's foot can be treated successfully with one of the many over-the-counter topical antifungal creams, but there are also preventive steps that all athletes can take to reduce the spread of this fungus," Adams said in a statement. "Moisture-wicking socks are a must, as cotton socks trap moisture and should not be worn by athletes. After working out or competing, athletes should shower immediately and make sure they wear flip flops in the shower or locker room."

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