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Skin Infections Can Spread Easily Among Athletes
Date:2/11/2011

FRIDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- In addition to the collegiality and competitive spirit that typifies team sports, one dermatologist cautions that players may be sharing something far less desirable: contagious skin infections.

"Outbreaks of ringworm, herpes and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have occurred at the high school, collegiate and professional level throughout the world," dermatologist Dr. Brian B. Adams, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine.

"These skin conditions are highly contagious and can spread through sports teams quite quickly, especially if they are not immediately diagnosed and contained. That is why athletes need to be aware of these risks and how to spot the warning signs of a skin infection," he noted.

Adams is scheduled to discuss the role played by bacterial, viral and fungus-based infections in team sports this week the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting in New Orleans.

The physical contact (and subsequent skin trauma) at the heart of many team sports are the driving forces behind such skin infections, he notes, as is the use of shared facilities and equipment, in addition to some cases of poor hygiene.

By way of example, Adams noted that wrestlers face a risk for spreading the bacterial infection known as impetigo, marked by blister and itchy, honey-colored, crusty red areas, while football is the most common vehicle for the spread of MRSA, a staph infection resistant to many antibiotics.

On the skin, MRSA may resemble a pimple, boil or abscess that hurts, itches or is warm to the touch. In the early stages, most are treated easily, but in the rare case that the infection becomes systemic, it can be life-threatening.

In an earlier published review, Adams found shared equipment, hygiene and even artificial turf burns can increase the risk of developing MRSA.

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