Viral skin infections among athletes

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There are various types of viral skin infections that affect athletes that you should be familiar with. It is important that you know how to recognize the symptoms and how they are managed.

Common forms of viral skin infections


Warts are described as skin growths brought about by the human papilloma virus. Any individual can develop warts but frequently spread among athletes via contact with contaminated locker room mats and floors.

The warts can be light brown, flesh-colored or yellowish. Since they can be mistaken as calluses, the doctor might pare down the thick area of skin for small black dots. These dots are small clotted capillaries that feed the wart.

Viral skin infections
Herpes simplex virus usually causes recurrent clusters of burning, tender blisters on or around the mouth or lips.


  • Cryotherapy involves freezing the wart using liquid nitrogen
  • Curettage is a special instrument used to scrape off the wart
  • Topical therapy involves the application of a blistering agent on the surface of the wart
  • Laser therapy involves burning of the wart using laser

Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is triggered by the pox virus that is commonly seen among young children and spreads via skin contact or staying in wet environments with an infected individual.

The condition causes lesions that manifest as clusters on the underarms, behind the knees and elbow creases but can also appear in other places. These lesions are small, pinkish and dome-shaped with a small depression in the middle. It is often surrounded with an itchy rash like eczema.


The condition eventually resolves on its own. The lesions might spread thus it might take several months up to years for untreated lesions to settle entirely. Due to this, treatment is required.

Herpes simplex virus

Herpes simplex virus usually causes recurrent clusters of burning, tender blisters on or around the mouth or lips. Before the blisters manifest, there is a tingling or burning sensation in the affected area.

These blisters crust over after several days and settle in 2-3 weeks. Since the virus can stay in the skin, recurrence in the same area is common. It often occurs in various places including the torso, neck and the extremities.


Herpes simplex is managed using an oral antiviral drug such as acyclovir. These medications work by shortening the length of the outbreak if started within the first 72 hours when the symptoms start.

In case the virus recurs frequently, the doctor might prescribe a suppressive daily dose of either medication. This aims on minimizing the outbreaks.

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