We’re coming up on wrestling’s peak season and something as simple as a rash could be devastating to these hard-working grapplers, derailing their entire tournament season.
About 90 percent of the rashes we see are caused by ringworm, herpes and bacterial infections, such as staph impetigo. They are highly contagious and if left untreated, the infections can strengthen and become significant. That’s why skin checks are crucial in this sport.
This week, I spoke with 1590 WAKR morning show host Ray Horner about this topic.
Rashes can be treated effectively with topical medicines or oral antibiotics. However, in the last decade or so, some staph infections have become resistant to basic antibiotics, so it’s important to get the correct diagnosis and begin treatment immediately.
Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion.
HORNER: Our good friend, Dr. Joe Congeni, Sports Medicine Center, Akron Children’s Hospital. It’s wrestling season, Joe, and we are in the heat of this. Unfortunately, we get some injuries, rashes, burns and some of this other stuff in regards to sliding around on these mats.
DR. CONGENI: Yeah, Ray, thanks a lot. I did want to touch on the wrestlers, and they work real hard. They work year-round, too, just like other sports. And, this is their peak month here coming up, starting about now, all the major tournaments and then we get into the state tournament … . It’ll all take place in the next 4, 5 or 6 weeks.
And, um, these kids have worked so hard and down at our center, uh, in the last few weeks, we have seen a couple kids whose seasons got, uh, derailed a bit by the rashes. And so, we really try to make sure that parents and athletes and wrestlers and coaches understand, uh, a little bit about the rashes.
These things need to be treated early. They’re so much easier to treat early than late, and when you wait too long it also concerns us about the spread to your own team, spread to other wrestlers that you wrestle against.
So for instance, the big D’s tournament (Bill Dies Memorial Wrestling Tournament) we’ll be working at Firestone is this weekend. There are so many teams there, if you go there with a rash and you spread that rash to many other teams, this time of year it can be devastating. So we are asking the trainers and the parents and the coaches to be aware and get on these rashes early.
We talk, Ray, about the big 3. The big 3 of rashes that we’re gonna see 90 percent of [the time] are gonna be ringworm, herpes and bacterial infections like staph, staph impetigo.
… It’s a little bit difficult to differentiate between those 3 sometimes, and the reason that’s so important is that if you treat for one, say for instance you give people antibiotics for a staph infection and it’s one of the other 2, ringworm or herpes, these infections actually strengthen and get worse and are easily spread.
And, um, the other issue is whether it can be treated early on with a topical medicine or later on whether it needs to be treated orally, and how long they need to be treated and how long they need to be covered.
And so, there’s a lot of complex issues, and luckily we have, you know, really good, uh, infection people and skin people, dermatology people, that can help us make these, uh, correct decisions and diagnoses quickly and, uh, early on.
HORNER: Joe, I remember when I was in high school when you heard about staph infection, you really didn’t take it real seriously and it wasn’t a big deal. But, as I’ve been educated and through the years, [I’ve realized] this is a big deal.
DR. CONGENI: Yeah, it is a big deal because there are certain staph infections nowadays, over the last 10 or 15 or 20 years, that have become resistant to some of our basic antibiotics. So, whereas very simple, penicillin-like antibiotics used to eradicate almost all of these staph infections, Ray, not so much nowadays.
And another phenomenon that’s taken me by surprise, Ray, is that what happens is a lot of these kids start out with 1 rash. They’ll wrestle against other kids and they’ll get like a secondary infection, and some of them need to be treated with 2 or 3 different medicines to get rid of the rash.
And, if they don’t get treated, some of these [kids with] bad staph infections wind up in our hospital they can be so bad. So, you’re right, it has really evolved into more of a big deal these days.
HORNER: Joe, from a medical perspective and if we’ve got parents or [grandparents of] wrestlers and they got a scrape, they got a rash, what do they do?
DR. CONGENI: Well, you gotta keep an eye on it. So, a scrape is kinda the ability then for some of these organisms that are normally there anyway to get through that first, uh, barrier or layer of protection, the skin.
Then, they start going on to more significant infections. So keeping on eye on them when they get red; when they get, uh … these vesicles or little bumps, fluid-filled bumps on the skin that look like ringworm or herpes or staph. Early on, get into somebody that gets them treated.
And so, um, we talk about in this sport very frequently skin checks on almost, this time of year, a daily basis by coaches and trainers to check every kid on the team. Sometimes they’re in places that the, uh, wrestler may not even see, on their back or, uh, you know, on their arm in a place that they can’t see as well. And so, skin checks are really important in this sport.
HORNER: Alright, Joe, great insight, my friend. Thanks again for the visit.
DR. CONGENI: Okay, Ray. Have a great week.
HORNER: You too. Dr. Joe Congeni, Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children’s Hospital, with us.