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General Information

How can skin infections affect athletes?

Skin infections can take athletes out of the action and put them on the sidelines. Wrestlers, rugby players, and others who participate in sports where there is direct skin-to-skin contact have an increased risk of getting contagious skin infections. However, athletes, coaches, trainers, school athletic programs, and athletic clubs can take steps to prevent the spread of skin infections.

How serious are skin infections?

Most cases of skin infections in athletes are mild and treatable. But without the right treatment, certain skin infections can be very serious and even life threatening.

What should I do if I have a rash or skin condition?

  • Tell your coach and your parent or guardian if you are a minor (under 18 years of age). Because it can be difficult to tell skin conditions apart, have a health care provider determine what kind of rash, condition, or infection you have and how to treat it.
  • Do not practice or compete until you are told by a medical professional that your rash or skin infection cannot be transmitted to others.
  • Do not cover contagious skin infections and continue to practice or compete -- bandages can fall off and you could unintentionally spread the infection to another athlete.
  • If a health care provider determines that your rash or condition is not contagious (such as psoriasis, eczema, acne, or heat rash), you can continue to participate in your sport. However, cover the affected areas completely and securely to protect your skin before you practice, play, or compete.
  • If your rash or skin condition is not contagious, but is painful during practice or competition, wait until you feel better before resuming your sport.

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