Updated: Mar 19, 2022
Wrestling is a demanding contact sport that will certainly build your character and help you improve your physical condition. This article teaches you how to practice it safely and, most importantly, how to follow some common hygiene rules in order to prevent infections or also known in the wrestling world as skin funk.
The best cure for skin funk is prevention. Wrestlers, coaches, and parents focus on smart training, but all that hard work, time, and effort go to waste if skin infections are not prevented. Staphylococcus Aureus, MRSA, Impetigo, Ringworm, and Herpes Simplex to name a few can occur if skincare is not taken.
Direct skin-to-skin contact is the most common means of spreading infectious diseases in athletes. In a sport like wrestling in which there is significant contact, athletes are at a risk for these infections and the proper precautions must be taken to protect them.
What are the risks?
Since you will be constantly in contact with your opponent while wrestling, there is always the risk of passing skin infections and certain viruses. All of them are highly contagious, so you could infect the entire wrestling team if you fail to observe these simple but effective hygiene rules.
Tips for wrestling health and hygiene
1. Always try to have your wrestlers shower within 60 minutes after mat time. The 60-minute window is critical.
2. Bar soap is preferred over liquid soap. The best brand of soap is Defense Soap. Another option is Dial soap, which comes in a liquid or bar form.
3. Use a dandruff shampoo such as Selsun Blue or Head And Shoulders. This shampoo inhibits bacteria responsible for scalp infections. You can also use these products to wash your body. Ketoconazole is a prescription shampoo that is very effective but you will need to contact a doctor.
4. Apply a Barrier Foam before competition or practice. Defense Soap makes the most popular brand. It is supposed to create a barrier on the skin to prevent infection.
5. Frequently use antiseptic wipes. Defense Wipes are the best brand on the market. Kleenex makes a new wet wipe that should be equally effective. It is critical to use wipes if you can't shower within the 60-minute window.
6. Use Lotion every day and every night. Kids with dry skin seem to be the ones who get the most skin infections. Dry skin cracks and allows germs to get deep into the surface.
7. Spray headgear down with Lysol at least once a week. Do not put headgear inside of your bags!! The reason you see all wrestlers with headgear attached to the outside of their bags is to let them dry out. If bacteria start to grow in the headgear a rash or skin infection can develop.
8. Clean wrestling bags out regularly. Spray them with Lysol weekly. Wrestling Bags are the single most significant source of bacteria and skin infections. Wrestlers put dirty wet clothes in their bags with their shoes, close them up, and leave them to sit overnight. This becomes a bacteria breeding ground.
9. Never wear your wrestling shoes outside. They will pick up bacteria from outside and transfer it to the mats.
10. Never put your wrestling shoes inside your bag in the same compartment as other items especially clean clothes. Newer wrestling bags have compartments for wrestling shoes. You can also buy clips that will allow you to hang the shoes outside the bag. Amazon sells a brand called Shoe Klitch. Also, Spray your wrestling shoes with Lysol at least once a week. Again they are a source where bacteria can grow.
11. Wash knee pads, arm and leg sleeves at least once a week and spray with Lysol regularly. Knee pads are another prominent source of bacteria transfer because they are rarely cleaned.
12. Never allow your wrestler, yourself or anyone to walk on the mats in street shoes. Again this will transfer bacteria from the outside to the mats.
13. Always have your wrestler wipe the bottom of their wrestling shoes off with a bleach towel or bleach wipes after they have been to the bathroom or locker room during practice. This practice is VITAL.
14. If your wrestler is in HS or goes to a lot of national tournaments, the best advice is to get them in to see a doctor or dermatologist before the season starts and discuss skin issues. If you have a problem during the season you will be able to get treatment much faster and they will be able to provide the medical note that you will need so your wrestler can return to competition after the mandatory 72-hour treatment period. Creams are the best treatment for most skin infections. Lotrimin or Tinactin are over-the-counter creams. Ketoconazole 2% and Miconazole are the best creams out there, but they are by prescription only.
15. Research has shown that a new prophylactic pill can reduce or eliminate skin issues dramatically if taken once a week. FLUCONAZOLE 100MG TABLET is the standard dose. Ask your doctor or dermatologist about it.
16. As long as treatment has been started for at least 72 hours after your wrestler develops a skin infection, they can still practice. Please do not allow wrestlers to practice or compete during this 72-hour active infection window. Missing practice or 2 isn't going to keep your wrestler from making the Olympics but it will prevent them from infecting the entire wrestling team.
17. As soon as you return to practice after the 72-hour period, make sure you tape over the skin infection completely since it will take 4-6 days for the infection to fully heal. Tape the scalp or wear a skull cap until the infection is gone if the infection is in the hair.
18. If your wrestler has any skin issues and you are taking them to a competition, you will need a doctor's note stating that treatment began 72 hours before the competition started. There are some events that require specific forms to be filled out, so if you have a skin outbreak, the tournament director will provide you with the appropriate form for your doctor to complete. Additionally, some competitions are banning kids with skin infections regardless of whether they have a doctor's note. Be sure to contact the tournament directors before your trip so you don't waste time.
19. Make sure your club mats are clean. Almost all clubs spray and mop their mats daily, but cleaning them before and after every practice is even more beneficial. Defense soap also has a terrific mat, equipment, and surface cleaner you may consider.
Bringing home the hardware
In taking some of these measures, we aim to reduce skin infection, educate our community, and raise the bar for the standards we set for wrestling hygiene. By preventing skin infections, we'll keep wrestlers on the mat so they can bring home that hardware! The mission of Wrestling Savvy is to educate the general public and the wrestling community at all levels. We appreciate your sharing, comments, and subscriptions.