Does your teen come home with a smelly bag of athletic gear that makes you want to drop? Not only is the odour unpleasant, but it is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), is a resistant form of bacteria that lives on the skin, and in some studies, is prevalent anywhere from 8-30 % of athletes. The most common route of transmission of CA-MRSA is though an open wound, such as a superficial abrasion, or from contact with a CA-MRSA carrier. Other methods of transmission include poor hand washing, poor personal hygiene (e.g., not showering after workouts), sharing personal items (e.g., razors, towels, clothing), or a failure to properly clean and disinfect exercise and training equipment. As one of the medical personal with the Calgary Roughnecks, we take cleanliness of our rooms, equipment, etc., for the wellbeing of our players very seriously.
Key steps to prevent and limit the spread of skin infections such as MRSA, or fungal diseases such as athlete’s foot and ring worm:
- Practice good personal hygiene. Wash hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol based rubs
- Shower as soon as possible after exercise and do not share bar soap, towels, clothes, razors, etc. If possible use liquid soap in showers to limit sharing. Wearing waterproof sandals is also a way to help prevent skin problems such as athlete’s foot.
- Clean and cover wounds to prevent contact with other teammates or surfaces
- Wash clothing after each use and clean hands after touching dirty laundry
- Hang wet protective gear up to dry. There are also businesses that can thoroughly clean and disinfect used equipment
If you see any signs of an infection such as redness, warmth, swelling, and pus on skin sites that have sores, abrasions or cuts, seek medical attention ASAP. Cover possible areas with clean and dry bandages to prevent spreading of the infection. Fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, or viral infections such as warts can be greatly reduced by following the same guidelines.
Regardless if the season is long or short, the athlete showed not have to spend time away form the sport they love due to a preventable skin infection.
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