Dr. Robert Dimeff, medical director of sports medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said football players and wrestlers should be particularly wary because studies by the Texas Department of State Health Services found the methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, infection rate among Texas football players was 16 times the national average.
Signs of infections include reddening of the skin, swelling or pus around sores, abrasions, or cuts. The sores may be mistaken for spider or bug bites, 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 broken, wash the wound immediately with soap and warm water, then dry off the wound and ensure it is properly bandaged, Dimeff suggested.
To help reduce the potential for infection:
-- Keep hands clean by washing them thoroughly with soap and water or 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.
"If you see a sore on one of your teammates, alert them, your athletic trainer, and your coaches so that it can be evaluated," Dimeff recommended.
Without proper treatment, MRSA can spread to internal organs, the bloodstream, causing organ failure and death.