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Wrestling Skin Disorders

General information on wrestling skin infections and ways to help prevent it.

Folkstyle How to select wrestling shoes Terminology How to Buy a Wrestling Singlet
Scoring Referee Signals Training and Nutrition for Amateur Wrestling Wrestling Skin Disorders
A Dad's Wrestling Advice to His Son How to Find a Wrestling Club ●Wrestling- Off Season  


As a mother of a first time wrestler I was expecting the possibility of a black eye, broken bone, sprain, concussion, pulled muscle, bloody nose, split lip, or broken tooth.  These can all be potential hazards when it comes to wrestling.  However, what many parents do not realize is that you also need to be aware of the less obvious and many times more dangerous contagious skin infections that a wrestler can contact.  This is a problem that is real!  My son's entire league was temporarily shutdown this season due to the spread of skin disease in several of the schools.  Thankfully, our school was not one of them but it made me sit back and pay attention to this problem. 

There are many types of fungi, bacteria and viruses that are transmitted  from wrestler to wrestler in the following ways:

  • From skin to skin contact of one athlete to the other

  • From an athlete to an article of clothing, towel or equipment of another athlete

  • From the athlete to something in the athletic environment like the wrestling mats, weight machines, shower floor, or chairs.


The high degree of skin-to-skin contact in his sport makes fungai infections like ringworm, (Tinea Corporis), athletes foot (Tinea Pedis) or Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris) a possibility if preventions are not taken. It is by far the most common skin contagion associated with the sport of wrestling.  These infections will cause your child to stop wrestling but with proper medical treatment are easily controlled.

Much rarer but potentially serious ailments that can be contracted through wrestling are impetigo, a bacterial infection, which results in fluid-filled sores which break and spread and is very contagious.  However, the worst-case illnesses are staph infections and MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant form of staph which could be life threatening and must be treated immediately.

Herpes Simplex I or Herpes Gladiatorum generally are viral infections of the skin. Because herpes is a virus it often returns again and again. The virus hides in the nerves and is never completely removed from the body.  It is very contagious and you must seek medical attention.

So the reality is that these infections are there and it is up to you as a parent, the wrestler, and the coaching staff to keep your team healthy.

Steps the wrestler can take to help prevent infections:

  • Showering immediately after  practice/competition is the most important means to help prevent a skin infection.

  • Always use a clean towel.

  • Wrestlers must wash all workout gear and towels daily.

  • Gear bag, knee pads, shoes and head gear should be disinfected at a minimum twice a week, daily is better.

  • Use  detergent with bleach or dry clothes on a "high" setting .

  • Antibacterial or deodorant soap should be used when showering.

  • Wrestling clothing should be kept separate from everything else when transporting to and from school.

  • Never share anything with another wrestler including soap and razors.

  • Always put a layer between you and a work out machine.  You can use a towel or a piece of clothing.

Steps the coaches and leagues take to prevent infections...

  • Wrestlers strip down to their boxers to weigh in before tournaments. They are inspected at that time for any suspicious skin markings. If something is found, it gets taped up or, in some cases, the athlete is forced to withdraw.

  • Mats and equipment are cleaned with disinfectant before use. Sometimes they are cleaned again between rounds at a tournament.

  • When there is blood on the mat, action is halted while someone cleans it off and sprays the area with a disinfectant bottle that is kept handy at every meet.

  • Trainers are available to examine wrestlers on a routine basis and are there handle questions and/or concerns.

Great links for further detail and graphics of skin rashes...

Preventing Skin Rashes

Skin Disorders in Wrestlers by Dr. Robert A. Silverman, M.D. Pediatric & General Dermatology

Skin Disease in Wrestling by Rob Lawton ATC

National Federation of State High School Associations