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Sports dermatology- Skin injuries & treatments for athletes

Sports dermatology- Skin injuries & treatments for athletes

A developing area of dermatology, sports dermatology treats athletes’ dermatoses. Athletic skin conditions are contagious because they involve close physical contact. With repeated acute damage or exposure to environmental risks, other skin conditions deteriorate. Dermatologists are crucial in the diagnosis and treatment of athletes as well as in preventing the infection of other teammates.

Sports dermatology:

Cutaneous Manifestations:

  • Inflammatory conditions.
  • Traumatic and environmental skin injuries.
  • Exacerbation of preexisting dermatoses.

Traumatic and Environmental Skin Injuries:

Sports dermatology- Skin injuries & treatments for athletes
Photo Source: Freepik

Multiple frictional forces among athletes might result in friction blisters. Repeatedly rubbing against the skin upsets it, causing erythema and then pallor. It causes vesicle development, which is raised, superficial, transparent fluid-filled lesions, and is accompanied by stinging, burning, and pain. The majority of blister cases are marathon runners.

Causes: friction blister-causing elements include:

  • Heat
  • Moisture
  • Unfit shoes
  • Excessive training

Reason for Blister formation:

The protective skin barrier is disrupted by a hot, humid environment found inside the athlete’s shoe, which increases sweating and dehydration. These elements cause skin to soften and raise the possibility of blister development. The toe tips, the balls of the foot, and the back heel are where they appear most frequently.

Preventive actions:

  • Wear shock-absorbing clothing.
  • Use powders for drying.
  • Put petroleum jelly on.
  • Wear shoes that fit you properly.


  • It is sufficient to leave it as an open wound and apply a light antibiotic.
  • Antibiotic ointments are rarely required to treat wounds.
  • The athlete can resume their regular exercise once the soreness has subsided.

Calluses and Corns:


  • It was possible to feel the blood vessels beneath the lesions.
  • Wound cleaning.
  • Proper foot care.
  • A soak in warm water. application of corticosteroids and retinoids topically.

Knuckle Pads and Athletes’ Nodules:


  • Eliminating the cause of mechanical trauma.
  • Wearing protective gloves.
  • Changing the occupation.
  • Surgical intervention is required when there is a functional problem.

Piezogenic Papules: are numerous, tiny, painless papules (solid, raised, superficial, palpable lesions) that are skin- or yellow-coloured and located in weight-bearing regions, such as the lateral and medial surface of the heel. They result from extended standing or physical activity. There is no particular therapy.

Black Heel and Black Palm: The posterior side of the heel darkens as a result of a self-limited, asymptomatic lesion brought on by trauma. Players in basketball, football, and tennis can all exhibit them. Adolescents and young adults experience them. The black palm, which can be found in weightlifters, tennis players, and mountain climbers, resembles a black heel. Black palms and heels are innocuous and will eventually get better.

Erythema Ab Igne: This disease is brought on by long-term exposure to a heat source. They are erythematous, lacy-like spots that are persistent and connected to hyperpigmentation. In order to ease muscle and joint problems, people use heat pads, hot water bottles, hot showers, hot stone massages, and steam rooms. Dermatologists are referred to as part of the treatment. Laser therapy is necessary in cases that are chronic. Malignant transformation is feasible in various circumstances.

Inflammatory Conditions:

Sports dermatology- Skin injuries & treatments for athletes
Photo Source: Freepik

Contact dermatitis is an inflammatory response of the skin brought on by close contact with the afflicted individual. Conditions of dermatitis are brought on by persistent exposure to heat, injury, and wetness.

Clinical features: Elevated, superficial, fluid-filled vesicles, bullae, and oedema, along with erythematous and pruritic plaques (solid, palpable, elevated, superficial lesions). The skin lesions are situated in the contact or exposed area and are well-defined. Papules, which are firm, raised, superficial, palpable lesions with crusting, are the outward sign of chronic lesions.

Diagnoses: Clinical findings and the patient’s medical history can be used to make diagnoses. The allergen can also be found via a patch test.


  • Topical soak with cool tap water and silver nitrate solution.
  • Use of topical or oral Corticosteroids.
  • Use of antibiotics in case of secondary infections.

Sunburn and Sun-Related Conditions: Excessive sun exposure causes acute sunburns and premalignant skin alterations. By raising people’s knowledge, they can be avoided. But while players compete in sports, education is important.

  • Pain and discomfort in the affected area are clinical features.
  • Apply topical sunscreen lotions for treatment.

Exacerbation of Pre-existing Dermatoses:

Sports dermatology- Skin injuries & treatments for athletes
Photo Source: Freepik

Acne Mechanica: Papulopustular eruption (solid, raised, superficial, palpable lesions with pus discharge) is another name for acne brought on by physical activity. It is brought on by a confluence of heat, friction, pressure, and occlusion. The chin, jawline, forehead, neck, and shoulders are all affected. Common among wrestlers, boxers, football and hockey players. Prevention is the best kind of treatment, so wear pristine, absorbent cotton shirts.

Cholinergic urticaria and anaphylaxis brought on by exercise: It happens as a result of sweating brought on by athletes’ increased body temperatures. It is a clearly defined erythematous and edematous plaque (solid, raised, palpable lesions) that goes away in a short amount of time. Itching, burning, tingling, warmth, and irritation are the clinical symptoms. After the underlying cause has been addressed, lesions typically disappear. Systemic antihistamines are used in addition to fast cooling during treatment. Exercise, hot food, hot baths, and emotional stress should all be avoided by those with cholinergic urticaria because they all cause perspiration.

Physical intertrigo: It is an inflammatory skin disorder brought on by friction by pressing skin against skin. Usually, the secondary infection makes it worse. usually manifests in the finger and toe web gaps, axillae, abdominal folds, and groyne. Itching, burning, and stinging are among the symptoms. The cause of the condition must be removed, and the skin folds must be kept cool and dry.


The study of skin diseases associated with sports is still in its infancy. Athletes are very susceptible to dermatological conditions due to repetitive physical activity and exposure to environmental factors. If the function of sports in the aetiology of skin diseases is not recognised, a delayed diagnosis and an ineffective treatment strategy may result.

So, this was all about the common problems and their treatment in the emerging field of Sports dermatology. Also read, Required nutrition & diet for women in sports.

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