Skin Infection Guide for Athletes

Fungal Infections      |    Bacterial Infections      |    Viral Infections      |    Precautions to prevent Skin Infections

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections of the skin are very common in athletes. It dominates in the total number of sports-related dermatological infections. Dermatophytes may infect the foot, nails, any exposed skin surface or predominantly the trunk. Occasionally, athletes suffer from several types of infection with dermatophytes.

Tinea Pedis or Athlete's foot

Tinea pedis is the most common skin infection in athletes. Studies have revealed the greater occurrence among athletes as compared to non-athletes. Swimmers, runners, soccer players and basketball players are particularly exposed because an athlete’s foot provides the warm, dark and moist environment that is optimal for fungal growth. Athlete's foot may spread to the palms, groin, and body and they are highly contagious. It causes itching, burning, scaling, and pain.

Onychomycosis or Nail Fungus

In Onychomycosis, infected nails appear thick and yellow and possess subungual debris. It is the most difficult of the fungal infections to treat as the nail plate cannot be penetrated by most topically applied agents. Systemic antifungal agents such as Cardinal Health Antifungal Ointment and Carrington Antifungal Cream appear effective in the treatment of onychomycosis.

Skin Infections Guide for Athletes          Skin Infections Guide for Athletes
Cardinal Health Antifungal Ointment          Carrington Antifungal Cream

Tinea Versicolor

Tinea Versicolor changes the color of the affected skin and causes it to become lighter or darker than surrounding skin. Commonly affected areas are shoulders, back, and chest. It can even affect folds of the skin, such as the crook of the arm, the skin under the breasts, or the groin. To confirm the infection, the doctor will scrape the affected area for further diagnosis.

Bacterial Infections

Skin serves as a great barrier against the bacterial infections. Though many bacteria reside and come in contact with skin, they are usually unable to establish the infection. Bacterial skin infections can range in size from a tiny spot to the total body surface and can be ranged in seriousness as well, from harmless to life-threatening.

Furunculosis or Boil

Furunculosis is a deep infection of the hair follicle that leads to a painful swell formation with an accumulation of pus and necrotic tissue. It is most commonly observed on exposed skin. Athletes with furunculosis must undergo incision and drainage. Infection appears as red, swollen, and tender nodules on hair-bearing parts of the body. Furunculosis often tends to be persistent and may spread among family members. Focus on personal hygiene to reduce the risk of contamination and recurrences.


Folliculitis is a common skin condition in which hair follicles become inflamed. It's usually caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. Athletes, with intense skin-to-skin contact and those athletes, who wear equipment or tight garments, primarily develop these lesions. At first, it may look like small red bumps or white-headed pimples around hair follicles. The infection can spread and turn into crusty sores. The condition can be itchy, sore and embarrassing. Severe infections can lead to permanent hair loss and scarring. A mild case is likely to cure in a few days with basic self-care measures.

Pitted Keratolysis

Medline Soothe and Cool INZO Antifungal CreamPitted keratolysis is a skin condition affecting the soles of the feet. It is characterized by crateriform pitting that primarily affects the pressure-bearing aspects of the feet and occasionally the palms of the hand. The symptoms of pitted keratolysis are due to a superficial cutaneous bacterial infection. It affects those who sweat excessively especially if they wear occlusive shoes or boots for long periods. This results in very smelly feet, due to infection of the soles. Either the forefoot or the heel or both become white with clusters of punched-out pits. The appearance is more striking when the feet are wet. Runners, along with basketball and tennis players, seem particularly susceptible.

Use Medline Soothe and Cool INZO Antifungal Cream that offers the natural candida support of the ancient herb horopito for treatment of athlete’s foot and related fungal problems. This cream simply kills the microbes that cause that itchy, broken skin between the toes.

Viral Infections

Viruses are like capsules with genetic material inside. Comparatively, they are much smaller than bacteria. Viruses cause familiar infectious diseases such as the common cold, flu, and warts. In athletes, they also cause severe illnesses such as herpes simplex infection, verruca vulgaris, and molluscum contagiosum.

Herpes Simplex Virus Infection (HSV)

Herpes simplex virus is an infection that causes herpes. It is a highly contagious virus that passes from person to person through direct contact. Athletes may acquire HSV from other athletes, especially in sports with close skin-to-skin contact such as rugby, judo, wrestling etc. Infection can even happen from general interactions such as eating from the same utensils, sharing lip balm, or kissing. The virus spreads more quickly when an infected person is experiencing an outbreak. It can appear in various parts of the body, most commonly on the genitals or mouth. Athletes with intense exposure to ultraviolet radiation develop lesions.

Verruca Vulgaris or Warts

Human papillomavirus causes verruca vulgaris or warts and occurs in epidemic proportions in athletes. The hands are a particularly frequent location. The typical wart is a rough-surfaced bump that may either be lighter or darker than the surrounding skin. Athletes with intense skin-to-skin contact are the most prone to catch this infection. Several studies have proved an increased risk of disease among swimmers.

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a poxvirus that commonly infects athletes, especially those who:

  • Share equipment,
  • Engage in close skin-to-skin contact,
  • Participate in aquatic sports.

Tight-fitting athletic clothing increases the risk to develop molluscum. The small bumps are usually painless. They disappear on their own and rarely leave scars. The bumps can last from two months to four years.

Precautionary Measures to prevent Skin Infections

It is best to follow the precautionary measures to reduce the risk of skin infections, which can have serious and sometimes long-term consequences. To help prevent infections, follow these tips from skin experts:

  1. Always prefer to keep cuts and wounds clean and properly covered with a bandage until healed. It can weaken the skin’s defense and will let the infecting germs enter.
  2. Be precautious to prevent blisters occurrence by using a cream, pad or sanitizer to areas that routinely blister. Consider using specialized gloves and socks. To help prevent blisters on the feet, ankles, and hands. Ensure the size to fit properly.
  3. To keep skin dry, wear moisture absorbing outfits. It will help prevent the germs from growing.
  4. Wear sandals while entering the locker room. This will help in reducing infections on the feet.
  5. While taking shower athletes should use special skin cleanser, to wash entire body, after every practice and game. 
  6. Always keep personal care items separate like soap, towels etc.
  7. Regularly launder outfits and innerwear after each use to stop the growth of carried germs.
  8. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to disinfect equipment that used regularly.
  9. For the affected area, keep a regular skin checks (especially the sports where skin to skin contact happens) and report to the doctor if the situation worsens.
  10. Using bleach or any other way to pass the skin check will put in the skin in more danger.

Without treatment, skin infections can worsen and spread to the contacting athlete. If you notice anything that itches or is infected, immediately make an appointment to see a certified dermatologist.


All about Skin Infection


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