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.
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.
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.