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This time of year, doctors see many athletes with skin infections. Sometimes the same athlete may develop several skin infections over the course of several months despite taking antibiotics. This can be very frustrating to a parent.
Most skin infections are caused by Staphylococcus aureus or Streptoccal bacteria. The human skin acts as a very good barrier to these bacteria. Also most people have these bacteria on their skin and never get an infection.
Children may develop skin infections if they develop a break in the skin barrier from small cuts and abrasions. The bacteria are very opportunistic and thrive more efficiently in a cut or abrasion. They can multiply very rapidly causing a skin infection. Some of these bacteria cause abscesses, bone and joint infections, or blood infections. They can become very serious if not treated with antibiotics.
Athletes are higher risk for several reasons. They have excessive sweating, which gives the bacteria a better environment to grow. They are also more likely to sustain an abrasion or cut, particularly if they are outdoors and falling onto the ground such as in football or soccer.
So it is very important for the athlete to take a shower and scrub their bodies with soap. The areas where skin touches skin like the axilla (armpit) should be more aggressively cleaned. The scrubbing of the skin, particularly abrasions or cuts helps rid the skin of the bacteria. Having clean dry skin will help prevent infection. Abrasions and small cuts should be treated with an antibiotic ointment. The dirty clothes should be washed prior to wearing them again.
Despite your best efforts, children can still develop a skin infection. If an area becomes red, tender, and painful, your child should be checked by your physician. If your child can not be seen in a timely manner, Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care has multiple locations around San Antonio and Houston to help treat your child.