The winter high school sports season is on its way, which means the start of wrestling season and time to brush up on skin diseases. As we all know, prevention is the key to any disease, but especially skin diseases. A major component of prevention starts with personal hygiene. I stress to my teams about not using teammates’ towels or “borrowing” teammates’ clothes, or sharing personal hygiene products. Along with this, wrestlers should wear a different practice uniforms each day, unless the uniform has been washed and completely dried. Proper hand washing throughout the day, during practice and immediately after practice is a huge component of prevention as well. Also not sharing razors and using clean razors is very important.
Another important component of prevention is equipment cleaning and disinfecting. Mats must be cleaned and disinfected before and after every practice/match. Most teams assign wrestlers do this but they must receive proper instructions and use proper cleaning solvents. Along with mats, protective gear (knee pads, head gear, etc.) must be disinfected after every practice/match. The practice area should have a good air flow to allow the mats to dry by the next day, which reduces the risk of fungi, viruses and bacteria growing.
The last component of prevention involves preventing the spread of diseases after a wrestler contracts one. As soon as the wrestler suspects a skin disease, he should be removed from practice and report it to the coach and athletic trainer. If he does have a skin disease, he should be assessed by the appropriate healthcare provider so immediate treatment can begin. The wrestler should then be withheld from practice and not allow to return to play until he is cleared by his healthcare provider. Return to play guidelines vary depending on the specific type of skin condition. I recommend keeping a copy of the NATA position statement on skin diseases handy when making the return to play decision. Also I suggest reviewing the position statement before each season.
Lastly, following the prevention guidelines does not 100% prevent skin diseases but it does greatly reduce the chance of them. Athletic trainers, coaches, parents and wrestlers must stay on the lookout for any type of skin lesion throughout the season.