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Basketball, gymnastics and wrestling season is here. Contact sports and locker room floors spread infections. Here are 4 skin infections or irritations you should know about:

 

1. Athlete’s Foot

With more than 3 million cases a year, athlete’s foot is the most common skin infection. If you or your child are prone to sweaty feet, confining them in a tight space for long periods of time is the perfect recipe for the itching, burning symptoms associated with this skin condition. Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection and can be easily transmitted through direct contact with infected skin particles left on locker room floors, shoes and towels.

Symptoms:

  • Itchy, scaly red rash between your toes
  • Dry, scaly skin that can start at the soles of your feet and continue up the sides
  • Small, red blisters
  • Red sores that can leak fluid and odors

Treatment:

  • Begin treating the affected area immediately.
  • Minor infections can be treated with over-the-counter athlete’s foot creams.
  • In severe cases, a dermatologist visit is required. These include: skin infections caused by scratching the infected area and introducing additional bacteria, sores that are leaking fluid or if the toe nails become infected.

Prevention

  • Wear socks with moisture-wicking fabrics.
  • ALWAYS wear shoes or flip-flops when in a locker room, gym, shower or pool.
  • Keep feet dry. Arm your athlete with a pair of sandals in his or her gym bag. Encourage them to change from athletic shoes to breathable shoes right after a sports-related activity is over.
  • Wash feet with soap and water and dry completely, use a blow dryer if necessary.

2. MRSA

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA is a very resistant staph bacteria that causes severe infections in different parts of the body. It is much tougher to treat than most strains of staph because it is resistant to several antibiotics.

Symptoms:

  • Oftentimes, people mistake MRSA (and other forms of staph) as a bug or spider bite. Most staph skin infections, including MRSA, appear as a bump or infected area on the skin that are: red, swollen, painful, warm to the touch, filled with fluid and/or accompanied by a fever.

Treatment:

  • Cover the skin area with a bandage, wash your hands, and contact your doctor. If left untreated, MRSA infections can become severe and cause systemic infection.

Prevention

  • Always keep cuts, scrapes and wounds clean and covered while playing sports.
  • Wash hands often.
  • Avoid sharing towels and other personal items in locker rooms.

3. Impetigo

Impetigo is most common in infants and children. It is highly contagious but easily treatable with antibiotics. It is very important to keep affected kids home and away from other children until he or she is no longer contagious.

Symptoms:

  • Red sores that quickly rupture and have a discharge that forms a yellowish-brownish crust. The sores are most common around nose and mouth but can spread very quickly to the rest of the body.
  • Very mild itching and soreness.

Treatment:

  • A dermatologist appointment is needed for the prescription medications.

Prevention:

  • Skin-to-skin contact sports, like football or wrestling, are hot beds for the bacteria that causes impetigo. Keeping skin clean before and after sports activity is key!
  • Avoid sharing personal items in locker rooms.
  • Always keep cuts, scrapes and wounds clean and covered while playing sports.

4. Ringworm

Contrary to what you may think, ringworm has nothing to do with an actual worm. Tinea is the medical term for this fungal infection and technically, athlete’s foot and “jock itch” are forms of ringworm. This skin infection is highly contagious and spread very easily between people.

Symptoms:

  • Beginning as a flat scaly area on the skin, this patch will develop a slightly raised, circular ring.
  • The inside of the ring may be clear, scaly or dotted with small red bumps.

Treatment:

  • Depending on the location of the skin infection, your dermatologist may be able to recommend an over-the-counter medicine. Some areas of the body do require a prescription.

Prevention:

  • Humidity can increase the spread of the fungal infection. Be sure to keep that in mind during summer sports activity.
  • Avoid wearing restrictive/tight clothing during longer sports activity in humid areas.
  • Ringworm is very difficult to prevent and the risk factors are common and contagious even before symptoms appear.

As you can see from the prevention tips, a clean, dry athlete is the best defense again skin infections. Encourage your champs to practice good hygiene, hand washing and sandals in the locker room! These 4 skin infections are not the only ones out there, be sure to always consult with your dermatologist regarding any skin irritations/infections.

About Trillium Creek Dermatology and Surgery Center: Few places in the country offer the quality care, innovation and state-of-the-art procedures that are available at Trillium Creek. Through our integrative medicine approach, Trillium offers world-class general dermatology, dermatologic surgery, laser surgery, cosmetic dermatology, skin cancer treatment, Mohs surgery and holistic medicine.