Wrestling With Skin Issues
John Stawinski, MA, ATC
Basic skin lesion prevention methods for the Wrestling Coach:
In 2014 Vermont had the most reported cases of Herpes Gladiatorum(26), per wrestler, than has ever been reported in in any state across the USA. Naive, until last year, we considered our wrestlers relatively “safe” from serious skin issues. Now we must aggressively move forward to protect our athletes as best as we can and prevent any serious outbreaks in the future. After much research, including direct communication with some of the foremost experts of skin lesions in the wrestling community, this recommendation was developed.
The following is a comprehensive guide designed to decrease the risk of contracting or spreading of skin lesions. Not all skin issues will be prevented, even when following this guide, however significant science and common sense show that these guidelines will be effective in decreasing the prevalence of skin lesions.
A school’s sports medicine staff is responsible for educating everyone involved regarding infection-control policies and procedures. This includes coaches, athletes, parents, custodial staff and doctors as needed. Outlines are provided individually for: Coaches, Athlete/Parents, ATC’s, and MD’s.
Clothing and Gear
All clothing and wrestling gear is “dirty” after each practice
*If clean athletic gear is dumped into a dirty laundry bag or gym bag, the gear immediately becomes “dirty” and should be cleaned properly.
Practice Room Hygiene
–Do not leave the practice room with your wrestling shoes on, removing shoes or using booties (skins) is recommended. Having a few sizes available for when an athlete has to go to the bathroom will work.
-Another option if there will be traffic in and out of the room is to use a towel as a floor mat, soaked with cleaning solution, to wipe off shoes upon entry.
Also have water on hand in the room to decrease the frequency of needing to leave the room.
Meet/Tournament Mat Hygiene
*Wrestling programs should invest in equipment made to clean mats quickly so events are not delayed by the cleaning process.
*Infected athletes practicing without a partner, in the wrestling room, during practice may spread infectious germs to the mat, which can subsequently infect another wrestler.
Skin Checks at Competitive Events
The number one emphasis in this year’s NFHS wrestling rules meeting was clarifying the skin check rule for referees and coaches.”The referee shall perform the skin checks or verify that the designated, on-site meet appropriate health-care professional has performed the skin checks.”
-To see a fuller elaboration of the skin check rule: http://www.nfhs.org/sports-resource-content/wrestling-points-of-emphasis-2015-16/
*Alternate model worth noting: Wisconsin requires MD’s to perform skin checks 3 days prior to every competition.
Reporting lesions to medical staff
Bacteria, virus and fungus occur on the skin naturally. It is when there is a disruption of the skin that they typically propagate and cause an infection. Any disruption of the skin is an avenue to infection.
*Remind athletes of protocol regularly
Outbreaks of a skin lesion
Resources for further reading: