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Wrestlers have most skin infections among high school athletes

By Marilyn Malara   |   Feb. 3, 2016 at 11:13 AM

DENVER, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- High school wrestlers experience the highest number of skin infections among teen athletes, a national survey from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus says.

In the survey, the first of its kind, researchers say football players trail far behind wrestlers as the group experiencing the second-highest rate of infections.

Researchers examined data from a national sample of U.S. high schools over five years. During that time, 474 skin infections were reported among 20,858,781 "athlete exposures" -- which can include practice, competition and performances -- for a rate of 2.27 infections per 100,000 athlete exposures.

The results, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, show 73.6 percent of total reported skin infections emerged among student wrestlers, with 17.9 percent belonging to football players. Body parts most affected were the head and face, at 25.3 percent, followed by the forearm at 12.7 percent.

"Given the nature of the sport, it's not surprising that wrestlers suffer the most skin infections," lead author Dr. Robert Dellavalle from the University of Colorado said. "Most infections were bacterial and fungal."

Researchers recommended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggestions on how to best prevent sports-related infections. Of these practices, the CDC encourages athletes to take showers directly after each practice or competition.

Study co-first author Kyle Burton says if showering immediately isn't possible, studies have shown that soap and water skin wipes reduce rates of skin infection among athletes.

Dellavalle, who said most high schools wipe down wrestling mats after practice, suggested "the problem may be not keeping headgear properly cleaned before each match."

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