Preventing Skin Infections

In the Shower

  1. Do not lather directly under the flow of water. Allow soap to remain on skin momentarily.
  2. Use a loofah (mesh sponge) but not too vigorously. Vigorous scrubbing will cause small abrasions to the surface of the skin allowing penetration by the sources of infection.
  3. Wash the back of the neck and hairline thoroughly. The collar tie is responsible for the overabundance of skin infections found here. Our hands touch everything in the wrestling room including the mats, our bodies, our opponent’s body, and anything else you might pick up. Everything collected by our hands is transferred to the back of our opponent’s neck. Wash this area twice.
  4. Wear shower shoes. Athlete’s foot is caused by the same Tinea (fungus) that causes ringworm.
  5. Do not share towels and wash towels after each use.
  6. Dry off thoroughly.
  7. Wear loose fitting clothes to allow your skin to breathe.

On The Mat

We also need to protect ourselves on the mats. We all know that the mats are a battlefield. They are a place we go to compete or to train and prepare for competition. Part of this preparation and training should include proper hygiene. Here are a few tips that can help in the room.

  1. Carry your shoes to practice. When leaving the room for water or bathroom breaks wipe your shoes before entering back into the room. Shoes can be wiped on a towel dampened with a solution from your bucket of mat cleaner. Wet the towel in the bucket before cleaning the mats. The Defense Sole Cleaner Mat can help aid in cleaning your wrestling shoes.
  2. Athletes who train barefoot should never walk on the floor without proper foot coverings.
  3. The foot coverings should always be removed before entering the mats. Cleaning of bare feet can easily be facilitated with the Defense Foot Cleaning Station
  4. Change your shirt often during practice. Once a shirt becomes soaked in sweat, it becomes permeable. Your sweat becomes a vehicle for microbes to pass through your clothing and onto your skin.
  5. Wear a thick cotton t-shirt or clothing made of synthetic fibers that "wick" the sweat away from the body, helping to keep the skin dry.
  6. When sitting on the wall do not play with the mats. Wrestlers often lean with their backs against the wall with their hands at their sides touching the edges of the mats along the wall. Take a look at what is in between the wall and the edge of the mat. When was the last time this area was cleaned and when was the last time your wall mats were cleaned?
  7. Do not train with partners who have skin infections and do not train if you, yourself are infected.
  8. Cover and treat any trauma to the skin including, cuts, scrapes, and new tattoos. New tattoos are the product of the skin being pierced thousands of times. Always apply an antibiotic ointment or healing salve before covering for added protection. Of course, bandages are going to fall off during training and will have to be recovered. 
  9. When leaving the room always, always, always, consider yourself contaminated because you are. Shower immediately and properly. If a shower is not available use Defense Body Wipes to hold you over until you can shower.

Don't Forget The Equipment. Be sure to use Defense Equipment Spray on the following items.

Having a clean room is also a necessity, but a clean room is more than just mopping the mats. There are many more surfaces that we come in contact with other than floor mats. Consider cleaning the following:

  1. Wall mats.
  2. Takedown dummies. (Remove the clothing and launder it and wipe down vinyl surfaces.)
  3. Throw dummies.
  4. Crash pads or throw mats.
  5. Fighters, wipe down your bags, bag gloves, and your hands after wearing bag gloves.

Other useful tips

  1. Fungi like to live in damp and dark places. Make your room light and dry. A dehumidifier can pull moisture out of your room.
  2. Battling skin infections is more than just topical. Diet can play a huge role in how healthy our skin is and healthy skin is harder to infect. Here are a few diet and skin care tips                                                                                    -Keep your blood sugars under control. Aim for blood sugars of 80 mg/dl to 120 mg/dl before meals, and 100 mg/dl to 140 mg/dl at bedtime                                                                                                                                        -Keep your Hemoglobin A1c at 7% or less (a 3-month average blood sugar test). That prevents dry skin.                                                                                                                                                                                                -Drink eight glasses of water a day. Of course, when cutting weight, we all would love to have eight glasses of water. However, we just cannot do this. Applying lotion to the skin will help keep it moist.                                          -Eat whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and small amounts of lean protein rather than sugary or fat-laden foods. Keep a balanced diet even when cutting back.
  3. Rest to increase your body’s resistance. You will catch infections easier if you are worn down.
  4. Once infected, proper care is required to rid you of the infection and promote healing.
  5. Do not touch the infection. Wash your hands immediately if you do touch an infection.
  6. Consult your trainer or physician with all possible infections. The sooner you treat an infection, the less established it would be. The infection will be easier to clear up, creating less damage to the skin.
  7. Use medicine entirely and as recommended. The infection may still be present even though it may not be visible.
  8. Use the proper medication for each infection. Using the wrong medicine may make the infection worse. An example of this is using cortisone creams on fungal infections, which help fungus grow.
  9. Many of us train for hours a day for competition, some are coaches, and some just want to stay in shape. Whatever reason we have to be on the mat, we all share the common threat of skin infections. Preventing, treating, and curing skin infections can be made easier with a little education on the topic.