Sunday, January 27, 2013

Don't Use Antibacterial Soap

Unless you want to get ringworm, don't use antibacterial soap.  This seems very counter-intuitive, as all coaches stress the importance of showering with antibacterial soap after practice.  Showering, is indeed necessary, but let's stop to think about ringworm for a minute.  Ringworm is a fungus, not a bacteria, so what good would antibacterial soap do in preventing it anyways?  Also, many soaps of that sort can be harsh on the skin, drying it out and leaving it cracked and susceptible to microbes.  In most parts of the country the air is already dry during wrestling season, so the last thing you need is to make it more dry.

So what is one to do in order to keep their skin from breaking out in all kinds of funky stuff?  For starters, use a soap that will be gentler on your skin.  Despite my best efforts, I had a bad case of ringworm during my junior year of high school.  The pharmacist who filled my prescription recommended Dove soap.  My skin felt better the first time I used it.  There also are soaps out there that are specifically anti fungal.  One in particular, Defense Soap, was designed by wrestlers, for wrestlers.  It contains all natural ingredients, the key one being tea tree oil.  There are several other soaps out there, not specific for wrestlers, which contain that oil.  One thing I have noticed, which is only anecdotal evidence, is that my skin seems to "get used to" a soap eventually and it feels like it has less effect.  I've noticed that if I switch between Dove and Defense Soap periodically, it makes my skin feel more moist each time I use it.

The air is dry in winter and your skin is constantly getting mat burn and other abrasions.  Any time you have an opening in your skin, that is an invitation for microbes to invade.  Therefore, you need to keep your skin moist.  Dove soap contains moisturizers, and there are many others on the market as well.  But sometimes that may not be enough - it may not sound very manly, but putting body lotion on your skin will also aid in warding off infections.

You can even look to your diet for ways to prevent ringworm.  First off, reduce the amount of sugar and refined carbs as much as possible, which is a good thing regardless of whether you're worried about fungal infections.  Be sure to include plenty of water, proteins, vegetables, and good carbs, such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, oats, or sprouted grain bread.  If you can stomach it, eat a clove of raw garlic and a tablespoon of coconut oil every day.  To eliminate the bad breath side effect, eat an apple afterwards.  These supplements superfoods have high anti fungal properties, and I'll tell you more about them in a future post.  If you have an open cut, try rubbing a little bit of coconut oil on it.  Sounds crazy, but you'll be amazed - I once put it on a scab before bed and it was completely gone the next morning.  Defense Soap also makes a healing salve which will do the same trick.

I've had more than my fair share of ringworm throughout my career, and I know how frustrating it can be, so I'm doing my best to make sure you avoid getting infected.  The team that I coach has had a few run-ins with the funk, and it's driving me nuts.  There is no fool-proof way to prevent ringworm, but following these tips will give you the best chance of keeping your skin healthy all season.

Anti fungal, not antibacterial,

P.S. Spray down your shoes and knee pads periodically with Lysol (kills the fungus that causes athletes foot, which is virtually the same fungus that causes ringworm) or Defense Soap spray after practice.  Defense Soap even makes an anti fungal laundry detergent now for your sweaty, smelly gear!

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