For Coaches and Athletic Directors

If You Think an Athlete Has a Skin Infection
  • Refer athletes with possible infections to a healthcare provider such as team physician, athletic trainer, school nurse, or primary care doctor.
    • For athletes younger than 18 years old, notify parents/guardians about the possible infection
  • Athletes with active infections or open wounds should not use whirlpools, therapy pools, and other water facilities (like swimming pools) that are not cleaned between uses until infections and wounds are healed.
  • Educate athletes about ways to prevent spreading the infection.
  • Make sure supplies are available to comply with prevention measures:
    • soap in shower and at sinks,
    • bandages for covering wounds,
    • alcohol-based hand rubs for hand hygiene, if soap and water not available
Protecting Athletes from Infection

Make sure all athletes:

  • shower immediately after sports participation
  • shower before using whirlpools, therapy pools, or swimming pools
  • wash and dry uniforms after each use
  • follow a healthcare provider’s advice as to when to return to sports or when to use whirlpools, therapy pools or swimming pools
  • keep wounds covered, if a wound occurs
  • report possible infections to the school nurse, other healthcare providers, or parents/guardian.
How to Prevent Spreading the Infection
  • Use Standard Precautions, including hand hygiene, before and after contact with the patient, and after removing gloves, when caring for broken skin or possible infections.
  • Ensure infected wounds on athletes are properly covered (e.g., with a bandage).
  • To prevent infection, encourage athletes to cover acute, non-infected wounds such as
    • Cuts
    • Abrasions
    • Blisters
    • Lacerations
Excluding Athletes from Participation
  • If sport-specific rules do not exist, in general, athletes should be excluded if wounds cannot be properly covered during participation.
    • The term “properly covered” means that the skin infection is covered by a securely attached bandage or dressing that will contain all drainage and will remain intact throughout the activity. If wounds can be properly covered, good hygiene measures should be stressed to the athlete such as performing hand hygiene before and after changing bandages and throwing used bandages in the trash.
  • A healthcare provider might exclude an athlete if the activity poses a risk to the health of the athlete (such as injury to the infected area), even though the infection can be properly covered.
  • Athletes with active infections or open wounds should not use whirlpools, therapy pools, and other water facilities like swimming pools until infections and wounds are healed.