Suciu Gloria MD, PhD
University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Carol Davila”, Bucharest
Dermatology and sports
Authors: Gloria Suciu, Iulia Elena Soare
The skin is the athlete’s first line of defense, being the most exposed area in professional athletes, as well as in those who practice leisure sports. A wide variety of dermatoses can be associated with athletic activities.
The cutaneous lesions may be infectious (fungal, bacterial, viral, parasitic), allergic, inflammatory, traumatic, depending on environmental factors, tumoral. Sports can directly or indirectly cause lesions; preexisting dermatoses may be aggravated.
Some skin diseases can be identical to those from the general population, some have distinctive features depending on the type of sport (sport itself or the environment – e.g. aquatic dermatoses).
Skin diseases may appear in epidemics (herpes gladiatorum, impetigo), affecting the entire community, some may be life-threatening (anaphylaxis), sometimes we deal with traumatic lesions (nail dystrophy, calluses, blisters) which reduce performance.
Outdoor sports present an elevated risk for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, sunburns.
Correct diagnosis demands familiarity with clinical presentation, sometimes atypically and bizarre. Early recognition, treatment and prevention of skin diseases in athletes are essential for individuals and teams. Best results require a multidisciplinary team (doctors, coaches, public health workers).