Health & Hygiene Tips for Wrestling
Good hygiene is essential to prevent the spread of illness and the skin diseases associated with wrestling. Most precautionary measures are common sense and easy to implement.
Taking a shower as soon as possible after wrestling practice or competition is a simple way to prevent skin diseases. The longer you wait, the more time harmful germs and bacteria are allowed to grow on your skin. Liquid antibacterial soap can be used during showering, but a product containing selenium sulfide (like Selsun Blue) is preferable. There are also products designed specifically for wrestlers that are effective. See Products below for more information. Showering tips include:
- Shower, don't take a bath
- Use mesh scrubs instead of wash clothes to limit the amount of bacteria that may be left on your showering equipment
- Thoroughly dry yourself, drying your feet last
NOTE: Deodorant soap, such as Old Spice Body Wash, is not the kind of soap to use for showering after wrestling.
Keep Shoes Clean
Most bacteria is introduced into the wrestling room via the bottom of shoes. Wrestling shoes should not be worn outside of the wrestling room, and non-wrestling shoes should not be used on the wrestling mat. It is also important to not wear wrestling shoes into the restroom, especially during practice or competition. Wiping the bottom of shoes with a disinfectant before stepping onto a wrestling mat can help prevent the spread of skin diseases.
Wear Clean Gear
Clean gear should be worn for every practice or competition, including shirts, shorts, socks, and singlets. Fabric can harbor germs and bacteria, which may fester between practices and competitions. The same gear should not be worn for more than one practice or competition. Soiled gear (i.e., with dirt & grass stains) from activities outside of wrestling should also not be worn.
Use Clean Equipment
Clean equipment should be worn for every practice or competition, including headgear, shoes, and protective gear (i.e., kneepads & mouthguards). Gear should be thoroughly cleaned to remove germs and bacteria that may fester between practices and competitions. Also, bath towels used for showering should be washed between uses. NOTE: Sharing equipment like headgear and shoes should also be avoided during and between uses. Also, dirty gear should not be placed in direct contact with a gym bag where harmful bacteria may grow.
Cover All Wounds
All open wounds and cuts should be covered to prevent infection during practice and competition. Open wounds are prime entry points for many skin diseases.
Keep Nails Trimmed
Untrimmed fingernails can spread skin infections. Bacteria may live underneath the fingernails, which can be spread by scratching another person. Long fingernails may also break the skin of another person resulting in an open wound that is vulnerable to skin diseases.
Take a Break When Sick
Wrestlers that are sick with fever or other contagious illnesses should not practice or compete. Wrestlers are in constant contact with each other and cannot only pass skin infections, but also other illnesses such as pneumonia. Wrestling while sick can also weaken the immune system and prolong an illness.
Be on the Lookout
Wrestlers, parents, and coaches should be vigilant and be looking for any signs of skin diseases on a daily basis, not just after practice or competition. Many skin diseases have incubation periods that may not result in visible symptoms until days later. Symptoms include red/irritated skin, scratches, peeling, bumps, & itching. Wrestlers should see a doctor and get cleared by the doctor before returning to practice or competition if a wrestler shows any symptoms of a skin disease.
Use Protectant Foams or Post-Match Wipes
Protectant foams and post-match wipes can be effective at preventing skin diseases. Protectant foams are applied to all exposed skin (as directed by the manufacturer) prior to practice and competition and most provide up to 4 hours of protection. Post-Match wipes are another alternative that can be used after each match (as directed by the manufacturer). NOTE: Some wipes contain alcohol. They smell strong and may burn when they come in contact with scrapes and cuts. See Products below for more information.
- USA Wrestling Skin Guide
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Website
- Article: USA Wrestling - Clean and Mean: Maintaining Good Hygiene On and Off the Mat
- Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling - Communicable Skin Disease Form
- Post-Match Wipes: