Ringworm in the Ring

Wrestling mats have been the cause of skin infections in the sport for years.


Skye Dixon

Senior and varsity captain Sean Stara wrestles against Elkhorn South. Elkhorn Antlers lost to South Storms.

Skye Dixon, Reporter

For years, there has been speculation about wrestling mats not being cleaned enough. This year, many of Elkhorn High’s wrestlers have infections on their skin. The mats need to be cleaned thoroughly and daily to help reduce the spread of bacteria. Without a thorough cleaning, skin infections, like ringworm, staph, or hepatitis B, can occur. 

During the wrestling season, these infections are common. Ringworm, for example, occurs frequently on the wrestler’s arms, bubbling up under the skin. However, staph infections on the face can happen as well.

“I saw the staph infection on Sunday right after I got my haircut. I thought it was just acne,” sophomore Brody Glover said.

Staph infections can look like spider bites or painful red bumps. They are often mistaken for a breakout on the skin.

“It started to eat away at my face and then in my hair, so I had to shave my head,” Glover said. “After it heals, it’s going to scar my face permanently.”

It is important to clean the mats with a special cleaner more than once a day. With wrestling, it is not always sanitary, so the more the mats are cleaned, the less the risk of infection will occur.

“Every day, we mop the mats with antibacterial cleaner,” history teacher Mark Nuismer said. “They have to make sure every day that they wear different clothes and have proper hygiene.”

Hygiene in wrestling is very important because, without it, the bacteria would be spread even more. Wrestling is a contact sport, so wrestlers have to be pulled out until the infection goes away.

“NSA has protocols. When a student has an infection, they need paperwork and have to see a doctor,” Nuismer said. “They need to identify what treatments have been given and the timeframe before they can compete again.” 

If a referee questions the infections, the wrestlers have to show their paperwork. The referee can overrule the paperwork if they think that a wrestler should not be wrestling. 

Although there is speculation over the cleanliness of wrestling mats, there are other factors that cause these infections. With the right precautions, most can be avoided. Unfortunately, some infections are inevitable. However, that does not stop the wrestlers.

“There’s always a risk of injury and infection or having something that could end your athletic career,” senior Sean Stars said. “If you get caught up in things like getting ringworm, you won’t have fun.”

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