If you are like most people in the US, you are watching the Olympics this summer and cheering on our American athletes. This is a good opportunity to reflect on your own athleticism and training. Conditioning your body can be great for your overall health, but as Dermatologists, we know that athletes are often prone to a variety of skin conditions.
One of the reasons we all enjoy the Olympics is the idea of hundreds of athletes competing on the same overall team. Team sports are historically the ultimate display of cooperation, camaraderie and a healthy competitive spirit among athletes. The closeness that brings athletes together on a team can also create an environment for spreading contagious skin infections. Dermatologists educate coaches and team members to be aware of common skin conditions -- caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi- and prevent a widespread outbreak.
In addition to the skin issues athletes encounter, which we have discussed in past blogs, there are more serious conditions to consider.
- (Fungal) Ringworm: Ringworm of the body (tinea corpus) is a fungal infection that appears as red, itchy, scaly, slightly raised, expanding rings on the body. The ring grows outward as the infection spreads -- the center becoming less infective over time. Ringworm is common among athletes and is highly contagious, spreading several ways, including skin-to-skin contact or contact with a contaminated object such as unwashed clothing. Treatment usually requires an antifungal prescription medication. This infection in the groin is called jock itch (tinea cruris), and in the foot is called athlete’s foot (tinea pedis).
- (Bacteria) Impetigo: Athletes with skin-to-skin contact are particularly at risk for developing impetigo -– a highly bacterial infection of the skin characterized by honey-colored crusted and red areas which may be itchy. Occasionally, blisters may occur.
- (Bacteria) MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus): This infection is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections. Community-Associated MRSA (CA-MRSA), often begins as a painful skin boil. It’s spread by skin-to-skin contact. This is the type of MRSA that is common among athletes as physical contact, shared facilities and equipment, and poor hygiene all contribute to the incidence.
- (Virus) Herpes: Easily transmitted in both athletes and non-athletes is the herpes simplex virus, which is contagious and causes blisters and sores almost anywhere on the skin. Most commonly occuring around the mouth, nose, genitals and buttocks, these sores are painful and must be treated by a physician.
These skin conditions are highly contagious and can spread quickly. Early diagnosis from your Dermatologist is especially important so that they can be contained before the infection is team-wide.
Dr. Asarch advises athletes, coaches and athletic trainers to be aware of the numerous skin conditions that can plague anyone participating in team sports. If you notice any type of unusual rash, sore or change in the skin, call your Dermatologist to schedule an appointment.
In the Denver Area? Contact us at 303-761-7797 or www.asarchcenter.com