The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) published an in-depth position statement in the Journal of Athletic Training which presents recommendations for the prevention, education, and management of skin infections in athletes. The paper itself opens with the following high-level overview:
"The nature of athletics exposes the skin of its participants to a wide variety of stresses. Trauma, environmental factors, and infectious agents act together to continually attack the integrity of the skin. Combined with the close quarters shared by athletes and generally poor hygiene practices, it is not difficult to see why skin infections cause considerable disruption to individual and team activities.
Skin infections in athletes are extremely common. Authors of a recent literature review investigating outbreaks of infectious diseases in competitive sports from 1922 through 2005 reported that more than half (56%) of all infectious diseases occurred cutaneously.
Recognition of these diseases by certified athletic trainers (ATs), who represent the first line of defense against spread of these infections to other team members, is absolutely essential. Prophylactic measures and swift management of common skin infections are integral to preventing the spread of infectious agents.
The following position statement and recommendations provide relevant information on skin infections and specific guidelines for ATs working with the athletes who contract them."
It's a fairly comprehensive set of recommendations, and is by no means a light read - so here we'll highlight some of the key guidelines that we feel are most critical. Note that the article focuses on prevention, rather than how to deal with the consequences of a serious infection; this aligns closely with the motive behind the formulation and creation of Barrier® Body Wash, which is meant to be a daily preventative measure to help protect against the development of various skin infections.
NATA insists that organisational support must be adequate to limit the spread of infections agents.
In particular, they advise the following:
"Adequate hygiene materials must be provided to the athletes, including antimicrobial liquid (not bar) soap in the shower and by all sinks."
This statement is categorised as being in "Evidence Category B", which they define as such:
"...there are experimental, clinical, or epidemiologic studies that provide a strong theoretical rationale for the recommendation."
Our own research has also concluded that liquid body wash is more efficacious than bar soap, which is why Barrier Body Wash was only formulated as a liquid, and does not come in bar form.
This recommendation is no big surprise, but NATA does specifically mention antimicrobial cleansers:
"When hands are visibly dirty, wash them with an acceptable antimicrobial cleanser from a liquid dispenser."
Note the word acceptable. With the recent FDA ban on the marketing of products containing 19 of the most widely-used antimicrobial ingredients in the world, we believe that many of the common off-the-shelf antimicrobial hand/body washes that dominate the market can no longer be considered acceptable.
This guideline is also categorised by NATA as being in "Evidence Category B":
"Athletes must shower after every practice and game with an antimicrobial soap and water over the entire body. It is preferable for the athletes to shower in the locker rooms provided by the athletic department."
The original publication can be found here.
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