Skin Examination of Athletes

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Goal: Identify concerning skin abnormalities for further evaluation by a health care provider.

When to conduct a skin exam

  • As part of league rules as in wrestling
  • If there is concern for an outbreak among a specific group of athletes

Where to conduct a skin exam

  • Ensure a respectful environment
  • Males should be examined wearing shorts and females should be examined wearing shorts and sports bra
  • In a private location such as a locker room with good lighting
  • A separate location should be provided for males and females
  • Same gender examiners are preferred when possible

How to conduct a skin exam

  • Ask the athlete if she/he has any skin problems
  • All bandages and wound coverings must be removed prior to examination
  • Have the athlete stand with arms outstretched, hands open, and feet shoulder width apart.
  • Have athlete lift hair, adjust neck position, lift arms, etc. so that skin can be examined thoroughly
  • Systematically examine the body from head to toe including:
    • Scalp, face, and remainder of head and neck.
    • Both arms, underarms, hands, and fingers
    • Chest, stomach, and back
    • Both legs, feet, and toes
  • Avoid touching the skin if possible
  • If the examiner touches the athlete’s skin she/he should wear gloves and change gloves every time between athletes
  • After removing gloves, the examiner should clean hands every time between athletes

What to look for

Any abnormality on the skin related to:

  1. Pattern
    • Appear scratched
    • Raised above the surface of the skin
    • Depressed or carved out below the surface of the skin
    • In groups, clusters, or patches
    • Draining fluid, moist, or crusted
  2. Color
    • Red or surrounded by redness
    • In groups, clusters, or patches
  3. Location
    • At or above the hair line on scalp
    • At edge of the lip or surrounding the mouth
  4. Anything else abnormal

What to do if you find a skin abnormality

  • Refer the athlete to a health care provider for further evaluation and treatment if necessary
  • Follow league rules and health care provider recommendations regarding exclusion and return to activities

Page 2 of this fact sheet contains images of Staphylococcus aureus “Staph”, Herpes, Tinea or Ringworm, Molluscum, and Scabies.

Updated Tuesday, July 01, 2014 at 10:35AM