Athlete Infection Control
Skin infections in athletes are particularly common and a little bit of self-education and a small management plan can greatly reduce or eliminate the chances of infection. One very simple tip for athletes traveling from place to place competing is to get a sterilizing baby wipe and to clean the remote control in the hotel room your staying in. The remote control could have been touched by a 1000 people before you and never properly cleaned. You turn on the television to get the news by touching the remote and then maybe flick through a few channels. Five minutes later you put your finger in your eye because you have and eyelash in it and Bob’s your uncle……yes you’ve guessed it your on the toilet the next day for the day.
So here are a few tips and idea’s for both Athlete’s and Team Staff to help you stay clean of the dreaded infection.
▪ A clean environment around you the athlete must be maintained.
▪ Team staff must be aware of what they are touching and be vigilant to their own Hand Hygiene when moving riders bags, handling bottles etc etc.
▪ Adequate hygiene materials should be on hand at all times. For example cleaning directly post race to showering with antimicrobial products at the hotel or home.
▪ Someone within the team should show leadership and be vigilant and offer constant reminders to all staff and athletes regarding hygiene.
▪ Ensure that the type of disinfectant that you are using is suitable and this should be checked with the person on the team charged with hygiene control.
▪ When hands are visibly dirty wash them. This should be done by wetting the hands, applying antimicrobial soap and rubbing hands together for at least 15 seconds ensuring all areas are covered. Then rinse in clean water and dry with clean towel or clean paper napkin
▪ If hands are clean then you may use a simple alcohol-based rub
▪ If you are dealing with an athlete your hands should be decontaminated before and after touching naked skin…both before and after gloves
▪ Athletes should shower after every training session be it heavy or light. If showers are unavailable then use antimicrobial wipes or spray. A simple and easy way to do this is to get a clean small towel and a spray bottle. Put some Eau de Cologne into the spray bottle and top it up with water. This will disinfect your skin and cause you no harm.
▪ All training gear and clothing that can be washed should be washed before it is worn again. As athletes have reactions to certain biological washing powders care should be taken in which one is used.
▪ All equipment should be wiped down with antimicrobial solution, even knee supports or helmets for example. This should be done in accordance with the manufacturers guidance
▪ Do not share your towel or any other piece of equipment with any other athletes.
▪ If you have any open wounds it is advisable to stay away from whirlpools and common area tubs etc.
▪ If you get any cuts, scrapes or wounds it is advisable to have then attended to by some who is capable of cleaning and disinfecting the affected area. The correct covering be it semi-occlusive or occlusive should be used for the appropriate wound.
▪ For road bike users change your handle bar tape more frequently and spray some antimicrobial solution on it every few days and leave outside to dry
▪ The same can be done with your saddle although your not going to change it so clean it correctly with soapy water and the spray some antimicrobial solution on it.
▪ When your staying in a hotel don’t leave your kit bag scattered all over the dirty floor, one never knows what was walked into and onto the floor.
▪ In the hotel bathroom close the toilet seat and don’t leave your toilet kit bag lying around open. Take it back into the bedroom beside you.
▪ Don’t walk around in your bare feet always bring your house shoes with you.
▪ At home clean the TV remote control once a week with antimicrobial solution and you could also do the steering wheel of the car and the door handle throughout the house.
▪ The computer keyboard at home and at work is also a high risk area so give them a clean on a regular basis.
▪ Try and keep your hands out of your mouth or away from your nose and eyes unless you have washed them.
If you put some of these little tips into play you can be sure that you will be reducing the risk of contracting an infection. Can I also advise that every individual is different and that the information provided above is provided in good faith. I you are using any products you should read the labels clearly and check with your local supplier or medical practitioner if you are unsure.