Parent’s Guide to Prevention and Management of Skin Infections
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention approximately 33% of the population is colonized with Staphylococcus aureus (staph) and approximately 1% is colonized with Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Colonized means the bacteria is present, but NOT causing an infection.
Cases have developed from direct (person-to-person) or indirect (towels, bar soaps, improperly treated equipment, etc.) contact. Staph infections usually manifest as skin infections, such as pimples, pustules, and boils, which present as red, swollen, and painful. Without proper care, more serious infections may cause bloodstream infections, pneumonia, or worse.
MRSA is diagnosed by checking for the signs of drug-resistant bacteria in the nasal secretions or tissue samples. This can be done by your healthcare provider.
So, how do we prevent and manage skin infections in the first place? Good hygiene and avoiding contact with drainage from skin lesions are the best methods for prevention. Here are some tips:
- Shower IMMEDIATELY following practice/competition with antibacterial soap
- Wash hands with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after changing a bandage or touching the infected wound.
- Provide clean towels and clothing for practice/competition
- Ensure athletic gear and towels are washed after EACH use
- Encourage your athlete to wear wrestling clothing only for wrestling, bring separate clothing for PE, and store them separately
- Provide large plastic bags or similar storage on trips/tournaments for clean and dirty separation of clothing and equipment
- Wash wrestling equipment AND gym bag, including wrestling shoes and headgear at least weekly with hot, soapy water
- Encourage your athlete to cover open wounds/scrapes BEFORE practice/competition and keep them covered and clean during normal daily activities.
- Recognize suspicious lesions and seek appropriate care
- Notify coach AND athletic trainer of suspicious lesions
- Encourage your athlete to follow the directions of your healthcare provider
Remember, athletes with skin infections may only participate IF their infections have been properly diagnosed, treated, and properly covered.