DALLAS, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Student athletes should make hygiene a priority to avoid staph infections and the more severe methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a U.S. expert says.
Dr. Robert Dimeff, director of primary care sports medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Children's Medical Center in Dallas, said football players and wrestlers should be particularly wary to avoid infection. Studies by the Texas State Department of Health found the staph infection rate among football players was 16 times the national average, Dimeff said.
Signs of infections include reddening of the skin, swelling or pus around sores, abrasions or cuts -- and these sores may be mistaken for spider or bug bites as well, Dimeff said.
"Have your athlete check in the mirror for any unusual red spots or lesions, particularly those that don't seem to be healing, and don't be afraid to alert the coaches to any issues so it doesn't spread to others," Dimeff said in a statement. "If the skin is injured, wash the wound immediately with soap and warm water, then dry off the wound and ensure it is properly bandaged."
To help avoid and reduce the potential for infection:
-- Keep hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or anti-bacterial hand sanitizer.
-- Avoid sharing towels, deodorant, razors or other items that touch bare skin.
-- Put a clean towel on the bench when weight training or using other shared equipment.