Herpes Gladiatorum– BusinessWeek– In addition to the collegiality and competitive spirit that typifies team sports, one dermatologist cautions that players may be sharing something far less desirable: contagious skin infections. “Herpes simplex is so common among wrestlers where skin-to-skin contact is unavoidable that the condition is termed herpes gladiatorum,” said Adams. “Treatment includes oral antiviral medications and the athlete can return to practice and competition after four to five days of treatment. Wrestlers who spar with an infected partner have a one-in-three chance of contracting this skin infection, so it is crucial that the virus is treated and athletes avoid competition during the period of infection.”
It looks like this is becoming an increasing problem in high school wrestling programs. Last year, there was an outbreak among several high school wrestling teams in Minnesota. The National Center for Biotechnology Information did a report on this in 1991 and the occurrences have been going up. The NCBI states that 34% of the wrestlers tested had HSV-1 ( The herpes that causes cold sores).
This is a cause for concern, especially if you have kids that wrestle. HSV-1 should not be downplayed as a simple “Skin infection” as it can be spread to other parts of the body, including the genitals. From there, it can be spread by sexual contact. HSV-1 and HSV-2 (Genital) are virtually identical under a microscope. So, if you have a cold sore (HSV-1) you can give someone genital herpes via oral sex.
If you have kids that will participate in sports, it may be a good idea to be observant of any rashes or red areas. The National Wrestling Coaches Association has put out an informational video about this HERE.