Wrestling, with its close contact, minor open wounds and sweaty equipment can become a breeding ground for multiple infections. The mats used for practice and competition are a common site for transmission of these infections, which are usually bacterial in nature. Thorough cleaning of mats and other equipment as well as proper treatment of infected wrestlers can minimize germ transmission.
Bacterial infections, including cellulitis, impetigo, folliculitis, carbuncles and furuncles are all transmittable via wrestling mats. These originate from the staphylococcus aureus or group A streptococcus bacterium. Cellulitis appears as a reddened area, while impetigo manifests as weeping wounds. Folliculitis, an infection of the hair follicles, may show up as small red bumps or whiteheads. A carbuncle consists of a group of infected hair follicles that turns into a pus-filled bump, or boil. Furuncles are another type of boil that involves the hair follicle and surrounding tissue.
Community-associated Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as CA-MRSA, doesn’t respond to normal antibiotic treatment. This serious bacterial infection manifests much like any other, with boils and abscesses as the most common afflictions. Usually, MRSA is transmitted via skin-to-skin contact, in saunas or via pads -- but mat transmission is not an impossibility. MRSA aggressively attacks skin tissue and can be hard to eradicate.
Infections Not Transmitted Via Mats
Even thorough mat washing can't prevent certain infections that are transmitted via skin-to-skin contact. These include ringworm, Herpes gladiatorum -- also known as "mat herpes" -- and the pox virus called Molluscum contagiosum. Athletes should shower well after all practices and competitions and ensure that their locker facilities are kept clean to prevent these infections.
- Photo Credit Stephen Morris/iStock/Getty Images