Common Dermatologic Infections in Athletes and Return-to-Play Guidelines
Although the usual perspective on return to play for athletes is recovery from injury, an unheralded aspect on return to play involves potentially contagious skin infections. An estimated 8.5% of health conditions and injuries related to high school sports and 21% of health conditions and injuries related to college sports involve infectious diseases of the skin. In about half of these cases, the head, face, or neck is affected. The infectious agents are common microorganisms, including methicillin-resistant and methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus and Streptococcus bacteria, herpes viruses, and tinea fungi. The challenge for physicians is to provide proper treatment to patients within the return-to-play guidelines of a sport's governing body, resulting in rapid resolution of the condition, minimization of time spent out of the sport, and minimization of communicable spread of the disease.