10 Common Sport-Related Infections and How to Treat Them

Sportsmen and women push their bodies hard to optimize performance. They expose themselves to all types of situations during exercise. As a result, there are some sport-related infections to which they are more susceptible than other segments of the population.

Some of these diseases require sophisticated treatments. Other infections in the same category can easily be handled using home remedies and other simple interventions.

Whether an infection is severe or simple, the affected sportsman or sportswoman needs to deal with it effectively. The reason why they ought to handle it conclusively is that they need to be in near perfect shape to win in the competitions they participate.

A slight discomfort may mean the difference between winning and losing in a competition pitting sports people who are in the same range of ability.

The following is a list of common infections falling under this category:

1. Athlete’s Foot

Fungi cause this condition. It is usually found in parts of the skin where there is a high possibility of being wet. Humidity in these hidden parts of the surface provides a suitable habitat for fungi which causes the condition.

The best prevention for athlete's foot, therefore, is keeping the feet dry. This disease is more common in teenage and adult men than it is in women.

Some of the most common symptoms include itch and scales in the affected parts of the skin. this condition is commonly treated by applying for antifungal medicines. The antifungal drugs used to come in the form of creams or lotions.

Over and above these drugs, there is also a considerable number of home remedies for athlete's foot. Some of these include applying garlic, using unflavored yogurt or a mix between baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

2. Impetigo

Impetigo is another infection that affects wrestlers. It is spread through close skin to skin contact. The condition is also common in children. It is characterized by the appearance of red sores on the infected parts of the surface. The red lesions start oozing puss at a later stage. They usually heal by themselves.

To prevent this infection, the sportsmen and women should always keep their carpets clean. The use of antibiotics can expedite healing.

3. Herpes Gladiatorum

This disease is prevalent with wrestlers. There have been instances in which it has affected entire wrestling teams. Herpes Gladiatorum is characterized by skin rashes which are akin to a herpes simplex rash.

The outbreak usually is domiciled on the shoulders, neck, arms and the face. This infection is spread through close contact. This mode of transmission is the reason why it is common among wrestlers; their sport is a contact sport.

This condition can be controlled by keeping wrestling mats clean. However, it is difficult to manage because if a competitor from another gym has it, they spread it even to those who try to keep it at bay. Once infected, a patient can use anti-viral medication to make the infection subside faster than it would if left alone.

4. Toenail Abnormality

This condition is also known as Onychodystrophy. It is characterized by the separation of the toenail plate from the toenail bed. This abnormality occurs when a runner's toe is forced into the toe of the shoe.

The condition can be prevented by athletes trimming toenails. If the condition goes to extreme levels, it may have to be treated surgically. Athletes can also keep this problem at bay by lacing their running shoes a little loose.

5. Tetanus

Athletes are typically involved in physical activity that may lead to injuries. These injuries if not properly tended may lead to tetanus. The risk of tetanus is unusually high in sportsmen and women who have to be involved in rigorous exercises.

This is because when the body is exerted during rigorous workouts, it loses its ability to protect itself against diseases. The best way to deal with tetanus is through immunization.

There is an active vaccine that works against Clostridium Tetani, the pathogen that causes tetanus. If the victim was not vaccinated as a child, they need to be immunized every ten years as adults or as soon as they suffer a deep cut.

Tetanus is one of the more dangerous common sport-related infections, although immunization has considerably subdued its prevalence, it is still relatively high among athletes.

6. Upper Respiratory Infections

There is a high prevalence of this condition in athletes. The high prevalence in athletes is notwithstanding the fact that URI is one of the most common infections in humans. These diseases are the cause of between 30% and 40% of visits to sports clinics all over the world.

The possibility of infection increases with the increase in physical exertion an athlete is involved in. Thus, sportsmen and women engaged in low to medium physical activity are less susceptible.

These infections are of different types, and various types of viruses cause them. URIs are infectious, and they can be transmitted from one person to another through aerosols. Thus, close contact with an infected person can lead to infection.

It is for this reason that close contact sports like wrestling are some of the leading culprits when it comes to transmission of these diseases.

Many of the patients can heal without taking medication. The use of Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs reduces the symptoms associated with these infections.

These drugs also shorten the cycle through which the disease goes thus providing the patient with faster relief than would be the case if they take no medication. A patient may also receive relief by eating fruits rich in Vitamin C.

7. Hepatitis

Hepatitis is transferred from one person to another through the transfer of body fluids. This mode of transmission means that there has to be close physical contact between the transferee and the transferrer for the infection to occur.

If athletes in close contact sports are suffering from a skin infection such as impetigo they are likely to transfer hepatitis among themselves. These skin infections are quite common among athletes involved in a close contact sport such as wrestling.

Hepatitis has no known treatment, but drugs may be used to slow down its advance. Usually, the disease ends by itself. However, there are instances in which it can advance to morbidity, and it may even lead to death. Hepatitis can be prevented among athletes by making sure that all open wounds and sores are dressed.

8. Jogger’s Nipples

This condition is more prevalent among male athletes than female athletes. When an athlete runs, they sweat, and the sweat is transferred to the fabric. The nipple then rubs against this material leading to crusting and bleeding.

The reason why this infection is more prevent in men than in women is that women typically put on bras as they go out jogging.

Nipples should be dressed in a hydrogel to treat this condition. The hydrogel can soothe the cracked nipples.

The cracking can cause the nipples to be infected. If they are affected, they can be treated with an antibiotic.

9. Ring Worms and Tinea

These are fungal infections that come as a result of the sportsman being always wet. The wetness is typically due to sweating. Tinea may occur on armpits, the athlete's head and other parts of the body. It is usually itchy with, and it causes a pale patch on the skin. It is treated using antifungal lotions and creams.


There is a relatively high prevalence of HIV among sports people. While HIV can be transmitted by usage of needles to inject drugs, successful athletes are unlikely to be involved in drug abuse.

Use of illegal drugs would lead to disqualification and also lower the performance of the athletes. The most likely way that sportsmen and women may end up contracting AIDS id through unprotected sex.

Owing to the many opportunities for travel available to athletes, they are likely to be engaged in sexual intercourse with people other than their regular sexual partners. It is for this reason that HIV is categorized as a lifestyle infection. The athletes who have attained high levels of success in their sports are usually celebrities.

They are famous and have access to groupies, and this increases opportunity for casual sex. HIV has no known cure and those who contract the viral infection have to take Anti Retro Viral drugs to manage the condition for the rest of their lives.


From the list above, many of the common sport-related infections are dermatological. Involvement in sports exposes the body to many difficulties. The diseases are from all manner of causes. Some are bacterial; others are fungal while still others are viral. Athletes also suffer from cases of food poisoning this is most likely to happen when they travel to different cultures in which they have to eat food that is different from their native diet. Thankfully, with proper personal care and medication, all the illnesses above can be treated or managed.

Guest Post by Susan Hamilton

Author bio

Susan Hamilton is a food engineer and a health advocate. She tries to improve her life by using home remedies whenever possible and she writes about it on HomeRemedyBook. You can also get in touch with her on Twitter.

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