Skin Infections: Information for Coaches and Team Leaders

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Image of skin infections for coaches and team leaders flyer.Image of skin infections for coaches and team leaders flyer.

Skin infections account for up to 10% of time-loss injuries in some sports and can cause serious illness. Skin infections can be spread from one athlete to another. You can help protect athletes from becoming sick or losing playing time due to skin infections.

Skin infections can lead to:

  • Lost playing time
  • Scarring, sometimes on face
  • Wounds or rashes that keep recurring
  • Rarely, serious life-threatening infections if not treated quickly

The three most important skin infections are:

  • Staphylococcus aureus “Staph”
    Caused by: bacteria
    Typically: one or more painful sores, with pus surrounded by redness, sometimes associated with fever

  • Herpes
    Caused by: virus, the same virus that causes cold sores in the mouth
    Typically: one or more painful blisters  with clear fluid surrounded by redness

  • Tinea “Ringworm”
    Caused by
    : fungus
    Typically: itchy, dry, red, circular patches

What are the risk factors for passing skin infections from one person to another?

  • Skin-to-skin contact
    • Wrestling and football are the sports with the most number of outbreaks
    • Outbreaks have been reported among participants in many other sports
  • Inadequate hand washing
  • Sharing sweaty or dirty clothes, towels, or equipment
  • Breaks in the skin, sores, or open wounds particularly if they are draining fluid and are not covered by a bandage that covers the entire wound
  • Not showering after every practice or game

When should I refer an athlete to a health care provider?

  • Any lesion, sore, or rash on the skin you are concerned about, especially those that are red, swollen, or draining fluid
  • The athlete also has other signs of illness such as fever or vomiting
  • Multiple athletes have similar symptoms

When should I exclude an athlete from competition or practice?

  • When the athlete has any concerning lesion, sore, or rash until evaluated by a health care provider
  • In general, if an athlete has an infection with fluid draining from the wound and participates in a sport with a lot of skin-to-skin contact, they should be excluded until the infection is healed

When can I allow an athlete to return to competition or practice?

  • Consult with the athlete’s health care provider and specific sports league rules

Prevent the spread of infections!

Athlete's responsibilities:
Coaches, Officials, and Team Leaders responsibilities:
  1. Report all sores or concerning skin problems to a coach, athletic trainer, school nurse, or other health care provider.
    • Tell she/he that you participate in sports.
  2. Before and after skin-to-skin contact athlete:
    • Wash your hands with soap and running water for 15-20 seconds or,
    • Use alcohol-based hand rub if hands are not visibly dirty
  3. After being checked by a health care provider, completely cover all sores, lesions, rashes, and wounds with a water-proof bandage so no fluid can drain from it. Change the bandage if it become wet.
  4. Do not share water cups or bottles.
  5. Shower immediately after every practice and game beforegoing home.
    • Use warm water and liquid soap
    • Use only your own towels, razors, or wash clothes and do not share them with others
  6. Never share sweaty or dirty towels or clothing. Launder all towels or clothes after each wearing according to label directions.
  7. Use clean personal equipment such as pads, head gear, etc.
  8. Follow coach’s instructions for cleaning and disinfection of shared equipment such as mats.
  1. Observe the athletes for skin problems. Encourage and support athletes to report sores, lesions, and rashes. Refer them to a health care provider if concerning.
  2. Promote good hand washing:
    • Athletes: before and after skin-to-skin contact
    • Coaches and officials: before and after contact which each athlete
  3. After being checked by a health care provider, ensure all sores, lesions, rashes, and wounds are covered by a water-proof bandage that prevents any fluid draining from the wound before and during participation.
  4. Ensure athletes have access to bottles or cups that are not shared.
  5. Ensure athletes shower immediately after every practice and game beforegoing home
    • Ensure that showers are functional with warm water and liquid soap available
    • Ensure that towels, razors, or wash clothes are not shared
  6. Ensure provided towels, uniforms, or clothing are laundered and dried after each use according to label directions.
  7. Assist in the cleaning of all personal equipment such as pads, head gear, etc. per manufacturer’s
  8. Develop and implement cleaning and disinfection protocols for all shared equipment such as mats.

Updated Wednesday, 17-Nov-2010 14:03:29 CST