Mandatory Guidelines in The Sport of Wrestling

In the 1990's, three high school wrestlers died due to unhealthy weight cutting practices.  The United States Wrestling Federation mandated new guidelines to protect the health of wrestlers.  The same level of reform is needed now to protect our wrestlers from dangerous skin infections.

A dose of reality

A Growing Concern

  “The danger of skin infections is a growing concern among wrestlers, parents, coaches, and officials. Prevention and early diagnosis is very important.”   

Source:  Article - Treatment and Prevention of Skin Infections in Wrestlers, Georgia High School Association

It's Embarrassing

“It can also be embarrassing for the wrestler to tell their athletic trainer, coach or parent that they may have one of these diseases. However, not telling anyone can turn a relatively minor situation into an extreme danger in some cases.”   

Source:  Article – Wrestling Season and Skin Diseases, Children’s Hospital of Colorado

Missed Competition

  “Skin infections are a leading cause of missed competition.”   

Source:  Article – Preventing Skin Infections in Athletes, Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt 

Knowledge is Power

The First Study

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver conducted the first study, released in 2016.  This study determined that wrestlers face more skin infections than any other sport, approximately ten times the amount, with football coming in a distant second.

Focusing on the skin health of a wrestler should be a top priority by everyone, including the athlete, parent, coach, trainer, and referee.

Viral, Bacterial, & Fungal Germs

Bacteria and fungus desire damp, dark environments.  Locker rooms, training clothing/gear, equipment, and moisture on the skin encourage bacteria and fungus to grow.  Viral, bacterial, and fungal germs enter the skin through open areas caused by friction due to inadequate practice clothing.  Wrestlers have skin contact with opponents, mats, equipment, and clothing.  This continuous contact during training activities breaks down the skin which contributes to the transfer of infections.


Skin infections are common due to the elevated levels of body temperature, weakened immune systems, and sweat and friction caused by physical contact between person to person and person to surface contact.

According to the NCAA Injury Surveillance System Survey, coaches and athletes spend nearly 15% of practice time dealing with skin infections.

Examples of Infection

  • MRSA
  • Staph
  • Herpes
  • Ringworm
  • Impetigo
  • Scabies
  • Folliculitis

Causes for Infection Development

  • Wearing improper clothing
  • Untimely upkeep of training clothes
  • Unwashed hands during practice
  • Improper hygiene habits after training and competing
  • Improper upkeep of mats
  • Lack of visual inspections of skin

Problems with Managing Infection

  • Lack of education and commitment
  • Continued breakdown of an individual's skin throughout a wrestling season (especially in the practice room setting)
  • Inability to effectively manage hygiene/ laundering procedures
  • Embarrassment
  • Overuse of antibiotics
  • Desire to shave
  • Lack of sanitation of mats and equipment
  • Denial of infection