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Kick off to good hygiene when you play sports

14/10/2014

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When you head onto the football or rugby field, hygiene might not be the first thing on your mind. But, living out your Ronaldinho fantasies amongst the sweat and the dirt and the fulminating faces of your opponents, keeping yourself clean before and after your game is a must.

Yet in September, Public Health England’s (PHE) annual conference in Warwick focused on the questionable hygiene practices of many rugby players, including sharing razors and ice baths in changing rooms.

While it might seem like an innocuous practice between teammates, researchers have found that it’s causing a rise in serious infections, including boils, abscesses and carbuncles.

Included in the research was a questionnaire undertaken by 59 regular rugby players, 11 of whom said they regularly shared towels. One in 10 also frequently shared razors and one in three shared a cold bath after training.

Dr Deepti Kumar, a consultant in communicable disease control at PHE, said, "We would urge any sportsperson who plays a sport where cuts and grazes are commonplace to practise good hygiene and not share any item with fellow team members to reduce their risk of developing an infection."

It’s just one example of many showing how traditional practices are throwing effective hygiene out of the window. But with more effective consciousness raising exercises like the PHE annual conference and better washroom services, we can successfully make hygiene the winner at fulltime.