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Shaving bodies may not be such a smooth idea for football players

Posted - Nov. 10, 2004 at 6:20 a.m.



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Football players who engaged in ''cosmetic body shaving'' were more likely to develop a potentially dangerous skin infection, a study says.

The infection, MRSA (short for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), resists penicillin-related antibiotics and requires treatment with newer antibiotics. The study, published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, analyzed 10 cases among 100 members of an unidentified college football team in Connecticut in 2003.

The study found players who had abrasions from synthetic turf were seven times more likely to have MRSA; players who engaged in body shaving were 6.1 times more likely.

''You may not notice it, but when you are shaving, you create micro-abrasions,'' said lead author Elizabeth Begier of the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Of 90 players interviewed, 25 shaved areas other than the face, most commonly the chest, groin and arms. The study said, ''Although some athletes (e.g. swimmer) practice body shaving to enhance performance, body shaving is largely a cosmetic practice among football players and other young men.''

Eight of the 10 cases involved cornerbacks and wide receivers, who had close personal contact during drills.

The study also said sharing of inadequately disinfected whirlpools also might have contributed to the spread among athletes. The disease mostly had been associated with hospital patients.

The Centers for Disease Control says MRSA cases usually are ''mild, superficial infections'' but can ''progress to life-threatening blood or bone infections.''

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© Copyright 2004 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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