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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2004 February;139(1):47-65


language: English, Italian

Dermatology and sport

Bonamonte D.

Section of Dermatology, Department of Internal Medicine Immunology and Infectious Diseases University of Bari, Bari, Italy


As well as having many positive effects, sports activities can cause medical and surgical problems which are the especial concern of specialists in the orthopedic, neurological, cardiological and pneumologic fields. However, sports medicine pays little attention to dermatological diseases, although these are notoriously extremely varied and often quite serious. In fact, the skin of the athlete is exposed to various exogenous stimuli of trauma-induced, chemical or biotic type. Skin afflictions linked to sports activities can be subdivided into 4 groups: 1) dermatitis caused by trauma (including a wide range of clinical pictures provoked by the particular sports movements: callosity and lichenification of typical sites, such as “cauliflower ear” in wrestlers, pseudo-chromhydrosis of the soles of the feet in basket ball players, keloid folliculitis in rugby players); 2) dermatitis caused by chemical agents (alterations of the skin, mucosa and adnexa caused by chlorine or copper in swimming-pools, contact dermatitis and adverse reactions to drugs); 3) dermatitis caused by biotic agents (viral, bacterial and mycotic infections; exposure to hymenoptera, lepidoptera and aquatic organisms); 4) dermatitis caused by physical-environmental factors (afflictions induced by cold, heat and ultraviolet rays). The diagnosis of sports-induced dermatitis is made on the basis of the history of the disease and the circumstances surrounding its appearance, together with the clinical examination; close enquiry must be made as to the sports activity practised, the movements involved, the materials and clothing used and all other aspects, such as the use of cosmetics, sun screens, topical medicaments. For preventive purposes, close collaboration among sports medicine specialists and sports trainers and instructors is highly desirable to ensure a better understanding of the etio-pathogenic mechanisms underlying the host of diseases associated with sports activities.

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