Skin infections common among student athletes
Mesa doctor tells how to keep children, teens safe from potentially dangerous infections
Ruben Espinoza, MD
And there is always the chance they can bring it home to the rest of the family. Some of these conditions are very contagious

Contact: Jodie Snyder (602) 448-8459

MESA, Arizona (Sept. 11, 2017) -- As your child gets back into fall team sports, they can share more than camaraderie with their team mates – they also can share an annoying and possibly dangerous skin infection.

Ruben Espinoza, MD, a pediatrician in the Banner Medical Group, says he is seeing more kids coming in for fungal, bacterial and viral skin infections that can range from ringworm to warts.

 “It’s not that uncommon if you have a child on the football or wrestling team. And there is always the chance they can bring it home to the rest of the family. Some of these conditions are very contagious,’’ he said.

“For student athletes, their biggest worry is that they won’t be able to play on the team until the condition is cleared up.’’

Teenagers are especially at risk for infections because their changing hormones cause them to sweat more and sweaty areas can be the perfect environment for infections to develop and grow.

Fungal infections that Espinoza routinely treats can include ringworm, athlete’s foot and jock itch. Usually these conditions are merely irritating but for children who are on steroids because of their asthma, they can cause complications because steroids dampen their immune systems.
Bacterial infections, such as impetigo with red lesions that have crusty tops, can actually be triggered by fungal infections, Espinoza said. Staph bacteria can live on kid’s skin and as a child scratches at a fungal infection like ringworm they can introduce the staph bacterial infection into the kid’s body. Most of the staph bacteria are easy to treat but 2 percent are the MRSA variety, which is difficult to treat, even with antibiotics.

An untreated staph infection can create cellulitis that can potentially lead to a whole-body infection.

Wrestling places its participants at greatest risk for picking up a skin infection, Espinoza said. The sport has skin-to-skin contact with high chance of abrasions; participants wear tight uniforms that don’t allow the skin to breathe or cool off and there’s a gym and locker room with shared equipment and warm, damp showers where infections can grow and develop.

For wrestlers and other student athletes at risk for picking up a skin infection, Espinoza offers a number of suggestions including:

  • At the very least change into clean, dry t-shirt after participating in a work out or game

  • Change socks and underwear daily

  • If possible, don’t wear the same sneakers every day

About Banner Medical Group

Banner Medical Group (BMG), Banner Health's employed provider group, is a team of more than 1,300 physicians and advanced practitioners across 65 specialties and more than 3,500 total employees located in Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. BMG providers serve patients in a variety of care settings. BMG primary care providers like pediatricians, internists, family medicine physicians and obstetricians/gynecologists staff Banner Health Centers and Clinics, and BMG specialists care for patients in both clinic and hospital settings. For more information, visit