DALLAS, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. school athletes can lower their risk of staph infections and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus by using good personal hygiene, a physician says.
Dr. Robert Dimeff, director of family sports medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, says studies by the Texas department of health found the staph infection rate among football players in Texas was 16 times the national average.
Dimeff says football players and wrestlers should be particularly careful to watch out for signs of infections, including reddening of the skin, swelling or pus around sores, abrasions or cuts. The sores may be mistaken for spider or bug bites as well, Dimeff warns.
"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 says 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, the doctor says.
To help prevent 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.