Sports Medicine: A game plan for preventing staph infections
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 Department of State Health Services 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.
“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, medical director of sports medicine at UT Southwestern.
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.
To help reduce the potential for infection:
- Keep hands clean by washing them 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.
- If you see a sore on one of your teammates, alert them, your athletic trainer, and your coaches so that it can be evaluated.