Back to School Means Back to Sports: Prepare for and Prevent Common Sports Injuries

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 Education News
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Don't overlook preventable, yet serious injuries such as skin infections

NORCROSS, Ga., Aug. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- As athletes head back to school, many have already gone back to sports.  That

means an increased possibility of injuries due to heat exhaustion, being out of shape from summer break and being back in direct contact with other athletes.  

More than 30 million athletes participate in sports each year in the United States with the most common types of sport-related injuries being sprains (mostly ankle), muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries, repetitive motion injuries, and heat-related illness.(1) However, according to the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, skin infections also are a top injury for certain sports(2) and a recent review of infectious disease outbreaks found that skin diseases accounted for more than 50 percent of all infectious diseases in competitive sports.(3)

Concussions, fractures and sprains typically occur at full speed and often a fraction of an inch can separate a good move from a severe injury.  There are steps that can be taken to help minimize the chance of injury, such as assuring proper protective equipment is used at all times.  

Yet, skin infections such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are preventable if athletes, coaches and parents are educated and execute a plan for prevention.  In July, the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) issued a new position statement on Preventing Skin Diseases in Athletics in order to raise awareness about how to prevent skin infections in sports.

Staph infections, especially MRSA, are spread from person-to-person through direct skin contact or contact with shared items or surfaces such as towels, used bandages, hot and cold tubs, or weight-training equipment surfaces that have touched a person's infection.  In football and other direct-contact fall sports, that can include locker rooms or turf on the playing fields.

As an example, football is a fall sport that has one of the largest participant bases and therefore, one of the highest injury rates.  The top three injuries for football are knee, head/face and ankle, with skin infections lower on the list.(2)  However, these top injures are not contagious.  If a high school team has around 100 football athletes, skin infections have been shown to occur on at least one team member and unfortunately, that one infection can spread to an entire team.(2)  The challenge becomes keeping that one highly contagious infection from spreading.  

What Parents Can Do

Most organized sports-related injuries (62 percent) occur during practices rather than games, yet approximately 33 percent of athletes do not take the same safety precautions during practice as they would for a game.(2) Being diligent during all sports play is important.

In addition to taking precautions for preventing sports-related injuries, attention to potential skin infections should be a priority as well.  Because skin infections are preventable, a skin infection prevention plan should be in place at all facilities that host sports activities.  Athletes should understand the plan and follow the precautions off the field as well.  This plan should include:

  1. providing sinks and liquid, antibacterial soap for washing hands and arms before and after practices and games; if a sink is not available, providing antibacterial gel or wipes that contain chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) in order to provide long-term protection from bacteria;  
  2. providing clean and available showers for athletes, if at all possible;
  3. ensuring sports equipment is cleaned and dried between practices and games;
  4. assuring all wounds be covered with clean, dry bandages and checked by a physician if inflamed or painful;
  5. eliminating the ability of athletes to share towels or other personal items; and
  6. encouraging soiled clothing and towels be taken home in separate bags for cleaning (not put back in lockers or bags with clean clothes).

Lastly, an athlete should have his or her own antimicrobial wash that kills bacteria including MRSA for up to six hours such as Hibiclens® soap or Hibistat® wipes.(4)  Hibistat wipes, unlike alcohol-only gels, are formulated with isopropyl alcohol and CHG.  This enables it to immediately kill bacteria on the skin, while also bonding with the skin to provide ongoing protection without leaving a sticky residue.(5)  It is individually-wrapped and used without water, providing portability and convenience, especially when no sink is readily available.

For more information or free educational materials for parents, coaches or locker rooms including posters and handouts for athletes, visit or  Hibiclens® and Hibistat® are available at drug stores including CVS, Rite Aid and Stop & Shop in the first aid section.  Hibiclens is available at Walgreens, Walmart and Target in first aid as well.

About Molnlycke Health Care US, LLC

Molnlycke Health Care US, LLC, consists of two divisions – Surgical and Wound Care.  Focusing on prevention of surgically- related infections for both patients and healthcare workers, the Surgical Division (formerly Regent Medical Americas, LLC) encompasses the world's leading manufacturer and supplier of powder-free surgical gloves (Biogel® surgical gloves); the number one supplier (by value) of skin cleanser (Hibiclens® and Hibistat® antiseptics); and BARRIER® protective clothing.  A leader in trauma and pain management, the Wound Care Division's market dynamics are driven by an aging population, higher incidence of pressure ulcers and increased home treatment.  

(1) Safe Kids USA. (2009). Sport and Recreation Safety Fact Sheet . Retrieved July 27, 2010, from Safe Kids USA:

(2) Comstock, D. (2010). National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study. Ohio: Center for Injury Research and Policy, Nationwide Children's Hospital.

(3) Zinder S, B. R. (2010). National Athletic Trainers' Association Pronouncement Committee Position Statement: Skin Diseases. Journal of Athletic Training , 411-428.

(4) Study #030917-150

(5) Tests 05-0338-201 & 05-0521-201, Study HIB 3-107-10-1

SOURCE Molnlycke Health Care US, LLC

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