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March Madness: Skin in the game

By Emily Baum, marketing manager for Iagnosis/DermatologistOnCall®

Athletes are Prone to a Variety of Skin Concerns

If your office is anything like ours, you're probably in the midst of learning who will participate in the annual March Madness bracket pool. And if you're like me, you've probably started your research and are already taking notes to fill out a winning bracket…which got me thinking, "are basketball players more prone to particular skin conditions?" I know, this is what I get for working in teledermatology.

As it turns out, YES, basketball players (and really any type of athlete) are more prone to certain skin conditions. I sat down with our Chief Medical Officer Mark P. Seraly, MD to learn more about the variety of skin concerns and what athletes can do to best prevent them.

Q: Are athletes more prone to specific skin conditions?

A: Yes, we know that athletes across the board are prone to several dermatologic issues: blisters, friction burn (from turf, courts or even padding/gear), athlete's foot, acne mechanica and, for those playing outside, exposure to UV light. Unfortunately, sports equipment, especially protective helmets and pads, create a warm, moist and dark environment for germs – and that creates an increased risk of skin infections for athletes.

Q: That sounds terrifying. Are skin infections dangerous?

A: In most cases, skin infections can be easily treated, if diagnosed early. Left untreated, they can have serious consequences. What's tough is that many infections, like ringworm and MRSA, which we've seen happen at all levels (high school, collegiate and professional), are highly contagious and can spread through sports teams quickly if they are not contained.

Q: What should an athlete look for? What are the warning signs that should raise a flag?

A: Anything on an athlete's skin that itches, burns or looks like it may be infected. Any of these should cause an athlete to see a dermatologist as soon as possible.

Dermatologist-approved Tips to Prevent Infections

Athletes, coaches and trainers can follow these simple tips:

  1. Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
  2. Prevent blisters to reduce infections by applying a pad, gel or spray to areas that routinely blister.
  3. Wear moisture-wicking clothes.
  4. Wear sandals in the locker room.
  5. Shower after every practice and game.
  6. Do not share personal care items.
  7. Wash clothes and towels after each use.
  8. Disinfect equipment, including protective gear, daily.
  9. Perform regular skin checks.
  10. Never use sandpaper or bleach to pass a skin check.

Whether you're an athlete or spectator, if you notice anything that itches, burns or looks infected, see a board-certified dermatologist online right away with DermatologistOnCall. Online appointments guarantee fast treatment plans (sent in 24 hours on average) and will keep you from missing school, work, practice or even a big game.