Infectious Skin Disease in Athletes

Submitted by Patrick Hatfield on Sun, 11/01/2020 - 11:37 am

If your child plays a sport, you will want to be prepared for some of the skin conditions that may arise due to the sport.  All kids will sweat and may experience irritated skin due to athletics.  However, some conditions can be a little more serious and you should know treatments and options.


Community acquired methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) is most common in high school football players and wrestlers.  Anti-staphylococcal cleaning supplies are used to try and minimize contact and spreading of these bacteria.  Most skin infections are treated with an antibiotic internally and externally on the skin lesion.


This is a common skin infection caused by a fungus.  It is termed ringworm due to the red ring shape that shows up on the skin.  It is usually red and itchy.  It can live on the skin’s surface, clothing, towels, and even surfaces.  Antifungal creams can be applied to the rash and will slowly kill the fungus.

Herpes Simplex Virus

This virus is fairly common in wrestlers and football players.  They tend to affect the face more than any other body part.  Fingers and thumbs can also harbor this virus and help in the spread.  Oral antiviral medications can be used to reduce the length of the illness, so the student can return to their sport.

Molluscom Contagiosum

This is a nuisance viral infection that appears as a small papule.  The material inside this papule contains a high virus load.  This is contagious and can spread very easily between athletes.  The papule can be burned or frozen to stop the spread and allow the person back into sports.

Verruca Vulgaris

This is also known as the common wart.  Warts are most commonly found on the hands or feet.  Acid or cryotherapy are great ways to remove the wart and prevent the spread.


The tiny little parasites that can take over on our body or in our hair can be treated quite easily.  Unfortunately, the symptoms do not appear for up to 3-4 weeks.  Early detection is nearly impossible, but treatment is highly successful.


Viral and bacterial infections of the eye are very irritating, but easily treated.  They are easily transmitted between close contact individuals.  Ophthalmic antibiotics can be used to treat the infection in the eye and most sporting events will allow players to continue even with an eye infection.

There are other viruses that can be transmitted through blood or intercourse, but are rare in sports.  Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis B/C virus.  These viruses are contagious and luckily can now be contained with antiviral drugs.  Hepatitis B even has a vaccine that can be administered if you are at high risk for exposure, like the medical field. 

Infectious diseases of the skin are highly common in athletes.  Close monitoring and high level of suspicion are important for early diagnosis.  Infected athletes are banned from playing until they are healed and this helps to stop the spread of the disease.