Grappling With Skin Infections
THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE - VOL 25 - NO. 12 - December 97
Why do parents send their kids to preschool? So the little ones can pick up every communicable disease and build up immunity while still young and resilient.
Why do teens wrestle? To serve as an early warning system for skin diseases that are circulating in their community.
For most people, there's not much skin-to-skin contact outside the family—other than shaking hands. Even then, the intact skin serves as an excellent barrier for keeping microbes away from living cells. Wrestlers follow different rules. They spend much of their time in violent skin-to-skin contact with strangers in an attempt to subdue them by any means possible, short of killing them.
The result is that most wrestlers finish practice or a match with minor abrasions and sometimes seeping blood. Then they head to the shower and try to wash off the staphylococci and other pathogens. The abrasions close overnight, and the wrestler gets up healthy the next day.
Usually. Unfortunately, microorganisms from the general or wrestling communities sometimes get a foothold and cause endemic or epidemic disease. To further complicate matters, some skin diseases, such as tinea corporis ("ringworm"), have become increasingly resistant to topical medications and now may require oral treatment as well.
Helpful tips for the treatment of fungal infections, herpes simplex, and other skin problems in wrestlers are given this month in an Emergencies series article by William L. Dienst, Jr, MD, et al, "Pinning Down Skin Disease: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention in Wrestlers.". If you can recognize and treat these "worst scenario" kids—who demand quick results—the information often carries over to "the next patient who walks through the door."
P.S. The Physician and Sportsmedicine begins celebrating its 25th anniversary next month. Our theme for the year is "Fit for the Future"—it's our goal to help our readers prepare. Look for our new "Clinical Techniques" department, bringing you practical, hands-on instruction. And get leading physicians' perspectives on the world of medicine in a year-long series of commentaries.