3 types of rashes grapplers must avoid during tournament season


Rashes are one of the big problems for wrestlers. CC/Flickr photo by Tom Hagerty

This weekend is the highly anticipated Bill Dies Memorial Wrestling Tournament at Firestone High School. It’s this time of year our office is looking more closely for one of the highly contagious rashes that could disqualify these hard-working grapplers from tournament season.

Today, I had the chance to speak with WAKR morning show host Ray Horner about this topic. We discussed the big 3 rashes — impetigo, ringworm and herpes — and how to treat them.

Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion.


HORNER: Our good friend, Dr. Joe Congeni, now on board with us [from] Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children’s Hospital. And, we’re gonna do a little grappling this morning, huh, Joe?

DR. CONGENI: Yeah, how about it, Ray? I mean, I think it’s a good time of year to shine the spotlight on those hard-working grapplers.

You remember — you know the name grapplers for wrestlers — they used to call the runners, this is back in our day, the harriers. Remember what they called the basketball players?

Dr. Joe Congeni

Dr. Joe Congeni

HORNER: Um, cagers?

DR. CONGENI: The cagers. You know why they called them the cagers?


DR. CONGENI: Back in the ’40s and ’50s, they used to play with screening or netting around the court. It was like they were playing in a cage, and that’s where the name cagers came from, but anyway.

HORNER: Very good.

DR. CONGENI: The grapplers are what I want to talk about. They’re a hard-working group. They work year-round. There’s a big tournament this weekend. Everybody knows about The Dies Tournament at Firestone High School.

HORNER: Yeah, awesome.

DR. CONGENI: Yeah, if you get a chance to go over there, [it’s well worth it]. These kids work hard and it’s a great tournament, well run.

It’ll be, as usual, the athletic trainers that are there keeping everybody safe. We’ll have docs there too, and I’ll be there. The trainer that’s been there 20 years, keeping people safe, Scott Reisberg, does a great job at Firestone.

But anyway, this time of year, one of the big problems for the wrestlers, the thing they really worry about are the rashes. There are the big 3. They are all different types of rashes; they’re not all the same.

The reason it’s a big problem this time of year, Ray, is, you know, the tournaments are a month away. The tournaments are a big deal, of course, when everybody gets to go down to regionals and state and all that kinda stuff.

If you get a bad rash around this time of year, you could be disqualified for the rest of the year no matter how hard you’ve worked year-round if you can’t get rid of that rash.

The problem is they’re very contagious [through] skin-to-skin contact, and the sport we see it in the most is wrestling.

If we see any, [hopefully] early on, we’ll treat them early to get rid of ‘em.

The big three rashes we’ll be looking for, No. 1 is called impetigo. Impetigo is a bacterial rash. It’s a staph, but it is a staph-sensitive rash. It’s not the MRSA-type; the methicillin resistant-type rash.

It has a yellowish, weepy appearance to it and it’s treated with antibiotics. With antibiotics, it gets better real quickly. Impetigo is pretty easy to treat.

But the problem is a lot of people that are unfamiliar with these rashes treat everything with antibiotics. And, the other two rashes don’t respond and kids could really struggle with the other two.

No. 2 is ringworm. You remember ringworm. It could start very local, like just on an arm or a hand or a leg. It is a fungal infection, but if it spreads to a lot of areas in the body, it’s a lot tougher for us to treat.

When it’s in one area, you can cover it and you could put topical antifungal medicine on it. If it spreads throughout the body for a wrestler, we have to put them on medicines by mouth — antifungals — that do have some side effects. They’re some big deal drugs. So, that’s the second one.

And the third of the big 3, Ray, is herpes. It’s called herpes gladiatorum and it’s a viral herpes infection. It’s probably the most serious. It’s the hardest to get rid of, if we can ever get rid of it.

The medicines for the viral herpes, the antiviral medicines — again, not antibiotics, as they don’t work at all — also have side effects.

So, you really need to know what these rashes are and treat ‘em early. The big fear of those hard-working grapplers is they’re gonna get one of these right before the tournaments coming up.

But, if you want to see some good wrestling, it’s really a fun sport, and this hard-working group of guys, [attend] this weekend’s Dies Tournament at Firestone High School. It is really well run.

HORNER: Alright, Joe. Good information. Catch up with you next week.

DR. CONGENI: Alright, Ray. Have a great week.

HORNER: You too. Dr. Joe Congeni, Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children’s Hospital, with us.

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About Dr. Joe Congeni - Director of Sports Medicine

Dr. Joe Congeni is the Director, Sports Medicine; Clinical Co-Director, Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Akron Children's Hospital. For the past 25 years, Dr. Congeni has been the “go to” source for national and local media looking for information about pediatric sports medicine.

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