Wrestling Athletes and Parents Skin Protection Guidelines By John Stawinski, MA, ATC

Wrestling With Skin Issues

John Stawinski, MA, ATC


Basic skin lesion prevention methods for the Athlete/Parent:


In 2014 Herpes Gladiatorum invaded the Vermont wrestling community. Naive, until last year, we considered our wrestlers relatively “safe” from serious skin issues. We now realize that we must aggressively move forward to protect our athletes as best as we can and prevent any serious outbreaks in the future. After much research, including direct communication with some of the foremost experts of skin lesions in wrestling community, this recommendation was developed.


The following is a comprehensive guide designed to decrease the risk of contracting or spreading of skin lesions. Not all skin issues will be prevented, even when following this guide, however significant science and common sense show that these guidelines will be effective in decreasing the prevalence of skin lesions.


A school’s sports medicine staff is responsible for educating everyone involved regarding infection-control policies and procedures. This includes coaches, athletes, parents, custodial staff and doctors as needed. Outlines are provided individually for: Coaches, Athlete/Parents, ATC’s, and MD’s.


Wrestler Hygiene

  1. Shower immediately after every practice.
  2. Use Nizoral shampoo 1-2x/week. (Slows or stops the spread of Ringworm, doesn’t cure it)
  3. Do not share towels, bar soap, razors, nail clippers, athletic gear or water bottles.
  4. Athletes should refrain from body shaving.
  5. Nails should be kept trimmed to avoid scratching teammates which creates an avenue for infection.
  6. Any clothing that a wrestler’s unwashed body comes in contact with must be considered “dirty”.


Clothing and Gear

All clothing and wrestling gear is “dirty” after each practice

  1. Soiled “dirty” clothing, including practice gear, undergarments, outerwear, and uniforms, must be laundered on a daily basis.
  2. If you choose not to shower at school, wash all clothes you wear home immediately after arriving home.
  3. Store practice clothes in a plastic bag after changing, do not let them come in direct contact with your gym bag or backpack. Anything coming in contact with your practice clothes, gear or your unwashed body must also be washed.
  4. Equipment, including head gear, knee sleeves, ankle braces wrestling shoes, etc, should be disinfected daily in the manufacturer's recommended manner.

*If clean athletic gear is dumped into a dirty laundry bag or gym bag, the gear immediately becomes “dirty” and should be cleaned properly.


Practice Room Hygiene

  1. Put wrestling shoes on in the practice room, this will eliminate one of the leading means of fungus entering the wrestling room. Grit brought in from outside the practice room is a contributor to abrasions and the transport of fungus.

-Do not leave the practice room with your wrestling shoes on, removing shoes or using booties (skins) is recommended. Having a few sizes available for when an athlete has to go to the bathroom will work.


Reporting lesions to medical staff

Bacteria, virus and fungus occur on the skin naturally. It is when there is a disruption of the skin that they typically propagate and cause an infection. Any disruption of the skin is an avenue to infection.

  1. Athletes should report all abrasions, cuts, and skin lesions to an ATC for proper cleansing, treatment, and dressing. All acute, uninfected wounds (eg, abrasions, blisters, lacerations) should be covered with a semi-occlusive or occlusive dressing (eg, film, foam, hydrogel, or hydrocolloid) until healing is complete to prevent contamination from infected lesions, items, or surfaces.


Resources for further reading:

  • A basic power point about skin lesions in wrestling


  • A more comprehensive power point about skin lesions in wrestling


  • NATA position statement