The Dirt on Staying Clean

The Dirt on Staying Clean
Posted on 01/13/2021
The Dirt on Staying Clean

David K. Whitelock, BA, LAT, ATC
Head Athletic Trainer, ThunderRidge High School

2020…... WHAT A YEAR!

In the midst of learning how to live with COVID-19, we have been constantly reminded to be responsible for our personal hygiene and be vigilant in adhering to the guidelines that are being recommended to us all by top health professionals in our country. Unfortunately, even with many of us doing our part, our country, our state and our schools have seen an increase in COVID-19 cases. Though COVID-19 continues to be a very serious concern for athletes, athletes also need to be aware of other infections that are often transmitted between participants during sporting events, especially activities like wrestling, basketball, hockey and lacrosse.

One common type of infection that athletes can often prevent are skin infections. There are several types of skin infections often diagnosed in athletes. Some of the most common skin infections include:
  • Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects more than 3 million people in the U.S. every year. It causes a red, scaly and itchy rash that develops rings in appearance and can be located on the head (tinea capitis), feet (tinea pedis) or body (tinea corporis).

  • Impetigo is a bacterial infection that is as common as ringworm. Sores develop, usually around the mouth and nose, rupture and ooze for a few days and then develop a crust that is yellow/brown in color.

  • Herpes Gladiatorum, also known as Mat Herpes, is a viral infection caused by the Herpes Simplex 1 Virus and causes cold sores to develop that can be quite painful and irritating.

  • Staph, which is shorter and easier to say than Staphylococcus aureus, is a type of bacteria that can be found on various locations of the body including on the skin and in the nose. Most of the time, Staph bacteria cause no issue but there are situations where a bacterial infection could occur.
In order for an individual to contract an infection, the conditions need to be right. For a skin infection to develop there must be an infectious agent(s), a susceptible host, a mode of transmission and a port of entry. These conditions are sometimes referred to as being part of the “Chain of Infection.” If this chain gets interrupted, infection does not occur. Cleaning is the most important component of prevention and can be the easiest step taken to help protect us from these infections. Cleaning consists of not just washing our hands frequently, but also washing the clothes and protective gear that we exercise in on a regular basis.

At the beginning of the Winter Season, the Athletic Trainers (AT’s) who provide athletic health care to all of DCSD’s student-athletes send information to parents, coaches and athletes reminding them about key components of personal hygiene. There are several simple practices that student-athletes can do consistently which will significantly decrease their risk of skin infections during their athletic season.

As identified in the current Policy and Procedure Manual that all DCSD AT’s are under the direction of, we have provided the following guidelines:

Sports Hygiene – Guidelines to Minimize Infectious Diseases
Position Statement and Guidelines
National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)
Sports Medicine Advisory Committee
  1. Shower immediately after each practice or competition. Use your own bottled soap and towel and don’t share them with others, let alone other toiletries. Studies have shown that transmission of infectious diseases can occur when these items are shared with other athletes.

  2. Don’t share water bottles. Viruses and bacterial infections can be easily transmitted via a shared bottle.

  3. Don’t perform cosmetic shaving. Needless shaving of the chest or legs or genital areas have been associated with increased outbreaks of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Consider cropping or closely trimming the areas if necessary.

  4. Wash equipment on a routine basis. Work-out clothing after each practice. Consider washing smaller pads (for knees or elbows) on a weekly basis or if soiled with contaminated material, each day. Larger pads, such as those in Hockey or Football, should be disinfected (1:100 solution of household bleach and water) on a routine basis. More frequently if soiled with blood or bodily fluids. Commercial equipment utilizing detergents or ozone for decontamination could also be considered.

  5. Don’t let abrasions or open sores go without evaluation by your coach or Certified Athletic Trainer (AT). Be sure to keep them clean and covered with proper dressings.

  6. Inform your coach or AT about any suspicious lesion at the beginning of practice. Consider withdrawal from practice or competition until the lesion is evaluated by your Health Care Provider (HCP). If it is considered infectious, wait to return to competition until it is cleared by your HCP. Also have other team mates evaluated for such lesions and cared for in the same manner.

  7. Don’t use a whirlpool or cold tub with any open wounds, scrapes or scratches.

  8. Shower before using whirlpools or common tubs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced coaches and AT’s to adjust athletic seasons, close locker rooms, remove water stations, require the use of masks whenever possible and more. With all of these new limitations and requirements, it becomes even more necessary for student-athletes to follow the hygiene guidelines before and after practices and competitions in order to reduce the risk of disease transmission. If we all do our part, all involved can participate in their chosen sport in a safe and healthy manner.
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In compliance with Titles VI & VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, and Colorado law, the Douglas County School District RE-1 does not unlawfully discriminate against otherwise qualified students, employees, applicants for employment, or members of the public on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education services. Discrimination against employees and applicants for employment based on age, genetic information, and conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth is also prohibited in accordance with state and/or federal law. Complaint procedures have been established for students, parents, employees, and members of the public. The School District's Compliance Officer and Title IX Coordinator to address complaints alleging sexual harassment under Title IX is Aaron Henderson, 620 Wilcox Street, Castle Rock, Colorado, [email protected], 720-433-1083.

Outside Agencies

Complaints regarding violations of Title VI, (race, national origin), Title IX (sex, gender), Section 504/ADA (handicap or disability), may be filed directly with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite 310, Denver, CO 80204. Complaints regarding violations of Title VII (employment) and the ADEA (prohibiting age discrimination in employment) may be filed directly with the Federal Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 303 E. 17th Ave., Suite 510, Denver, CO 80202, or the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 1560 Broadway, Suite 1050, Denver, CO 80202.


Special Education records which have been collected by Douglas County School District related to the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or the provision of special education in the district, must be maintained under state and federal laws for the period of five (5) years after special education services have ended for the student. Special education services end when the student is no longer eligible for services, graduates, or completes his/her educational program at age 21, or moves from the district. This notification is to inform parents/guardians and former students of Douglas County School District's intent to destroy the special education records of students who exited special education services as of June 30, 2016. These records will be destroyed in accordance with state law unless the parent/guardian or eligible (adult) student notifies the school district otherwise. After five years, the records are no longer useful to the district, but may be useful to the parent/guardian or former student in applying for social security benefits, rehabilitation services, college entrance, etc. The parent/guardian or eligible (adult) student may request a copy of the records by requesting the records by email to [email protected]