Return to play with a game plan for good hygiene

Participation in school athletics should start with a program for personal hygiene to help avoid staph infections and the more severe methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (known as MRSA) bacteria.

Football players and wrestlers should be particularly wary. Studies by the Texas State Department of Health have found that the staph infection rate among 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 as well.

“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,” says Dr. Robert Dimeff, director of family sports medicine at UT Southwestern.

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 antibacterial 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.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine.

Media Contact: Russell Rian