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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
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The Prevalence of Tinea Pedis in Professional and College Soccer Players Versus Non‐athletes: 2373: Board #105 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM

Pickup, Tiffany L.; Adams, Brian B. FACSM

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University of Cincinnati College of Medicine; Department of Dermatology, Cincinnati, OH.

Some of the most common injuries afflicting the athlete affect the skin. Tinea pedis can have detrimental results on athletic participation and sports performance, yet very few studies have examined the epidemiology of tinea pedis and no studies have occurred in the United States. Furthermore no studies have examined the comparative prevalence of tinea pedis in professional and college athletes. Lastly, very little is known about the differences between college male and female athletes in terms of tinea pedis.

PURPOSE: To determine and compare the prevalence of tinea pedis and associated risk factors among professional soccer players, college soccer players, and non-athletes.

METHODS: Soccer athletes from a local professional men's team and both the NCAA women's and men's teams from a local division I college anonymously answered questions relating to several risk factors for tinea pedis including age, gender, race, history of tinea pedis, previous treatment, and hygiene habits. A dermatologist examined all the athletes' feet and scraped suspicious lesions for potassium hydroxide examination and culture. The investigators repeated the same questions and examinations for a group of non-athletes that acted as a control.

RESULTS: The prevalence of tinea pedis was 69% (N=1 1 of 16) in professional soccer players, 69% (N=1 1 of 16) in male NCAA soccer players and 43% (N=6 of 14) in female NCAA soccer players. Non-athletes (with a prevalence of 10%) possessed significantly less tinea pedis (p <0.001). Athletes were 5.7 times more likely to develop tinea pedis compared to non-athletes (p <0.001) and males were 2.5 times more likely than females to develop tinea pedis (p <0.01). Additionally the presence of tinea pedis during this study was associated with an athlete's history of tinea pedis (p = 0.02).

CONCLUSIONS: Athletes experience a significantly greater prevalence of tinea pedis, though there are no statistical differences between college and professional athletes. The high prevalence of tinea pedis among athletes suggests a need for primary prevention. Interventions such as coach and athlete education, increased attention to hygiene, and routine use of topical antifungals in the locker rooms may mitigate this epidemic; further controlled studies are warranted.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine

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