Hygiene in the Locker Room

Amy Bohl, LAT

Skin infections, particularly in athletes, are a serious concern. Statistics show they account for up to 10 percent of time-loss injuries in some sports and can cause serious illness.

There are several reasons why skin diseases are common among athletes, including: environmental factors, direct skin-to-skin contact in certain sports, shared close quarters, trauma to the skin resulting in open wounds and poor hygiene practices. While some infections can be passed from one individual to another through skin-to-skin contact, others can be passed by touching a contaminated surface.

Parents, athletes and coaches should be aware of common types of infections to help prevent spreading the condition. These infections can be caused by a fungus (ringworm and athlete’s foot), virus (herpes simplex virus) or bacteria (staph infections, MRSA or impetigo).

Fortunately, relatively simple measures can prevent skin infections from being passed among athletes.

· Shower immediately after practices and competitions.

· Wash hands frequently.

· Wear sandals in the locker room and when showering.

· Don’t share towels, razors, and other personal items and toiletries.

· Cover all wounds to help prevent infection, especially during practice and competition. If a bandage falls off, have it replaced immediately.

· Allow equipment, padding and braces to dry out after each use. Avoid storing equipment and padding in a dark, moist, and/or warm environment.

· Avoid wearing the same practice clothing over several days. All clothing, uniforms and towels should be washed after each use. Bags should also be washed, as germs that cause infections can remain in the bags and grow.

· Keep your water bottle to yourself, do not share.

Make an appointment to see a healthcare provider if you notice anything on your skin that itches, burns or is infected. Skin infections can worsen and infect others if not treated properly.

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