What are the most common viral infections that occur in athletes, and how are they treated?

There are three common viral skin infections in athletes. 

Herpes is a virus that causes pustules on the skin, which get crusty once they open. Once you get herpes you will have the virus forever, and the pustules will appear again and again. Treatment, including oral prescription medication, is available for herpes, but it doesn’t cure the virus.

Warts are another type of viral infection. They are spread among athletes through direct skin contact or contact with unclean equipment. Over-the-counter wart treatments are available. You can also talk to your doctor about in-office freezing treatments.

Molluscum contagiosum is another kind of viral skin infection. It causes little hard, painless bumps that can often be surrounded by a rash that resembles eczema. 

Eventually, mollusca will go away on their own, but it can spread around your body in the meantime. Getting treatment to remove the mollusca is typically recommended.

Treatment options include:

  • Cryotherapy – Your doctor will freeze the bumps, which causes the cells to die.
  • Curettage – In this minor surgical procedure, your doctor scrapes the bumps off.
  • Medication – A few medication options are available, some for use at your doctor’s office and some for at-home use.

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