Alcohol SanitizersInfection

Soap and water wipes reduce infections in wrestlers

Medscape reports from the 50th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy that researchers at the University of Minneapolis, in Minnesota, studied high school wrestlers who used skin wipes after each match during a marathon day of wrestling.

The objective was to compare soap and water to alcohol swabs.

First, the details.

  • 168 wrestlers were randomly assigned to a treatment group.
    • Day 1: 3 teams of wrestlers were randomly assigned to use a soap and water wipe, a 75% isopropyl alcohol wipe, or a control (no wipe) group.
    • Day 2: The teams were randomly assigned to 1 of the other groups for 3 matches.
  • After each of 3 matches, team members in the skin wipe groups used their skin wipe; those in the control group used nothing.
  • Skin checks were performed and skin lesions were documented by the team coach or by a certified athletic trainer the week after each tournament.
  • Athletes with lesions were removed from competition and a researcher evaluated them.

And, the results.

  • 16% of wrestlers developed skin infections.
  • 8 skin infections were documented in the control group.
    • 4 cases of Tinea corporis (ringworm)
    • 2 bacterial infections
    • 2 herpes infections
  • In the soap and water group there was 1 infection (bacterial) — significantly better vs the control group.
  • In the alcohol-based group there were 4 infections (3 bacterial, 1 herpes) — not significantly different from the control group.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded that by “using a soap and water cleansing wipe after each match of a day-long tournament, a 14-man team can reduce their risk of skin infection by 97%.”

That’s good for the manufacturer of the soap and water wipe.

But it’s unclear why the alcohol wipe was not more effective than no treatment. The results will be of interest to the company that supplied the alcohol wipe since they market their product to gyms and athletes.

9/28/10 22:21 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.