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Skin conditions in figure skaters, ice-hockey players and speed skaters: part I - mechanical dermatoses.

Sports Medicine 2011 September 2
Figure skaters, ice-hockey players and speed skaters experience a range of dermatologic conditions and tissue-related injuries on account of mechanical trauma, infectious pathogens, inflammatory processes and environmental factors related to these competitive pursuits. Sports medicine practitioners, family physicians, dermatologists and coaches should be familiar with these skin conditions to ensure timely and accurate diagnosis and management of affected athletes. This review is Part I of a subsequent companion review and provides a comprehensive review of mechanical dermatoses experienced by ice-skating athletes, including skater's nodules and its variants, pump bumps, piezogenic pedal papules, talon noir, skate/lace bite, friction bullae, corns and calluses, onychocryptosis, skater's toe and skate blade-induced lacerations. These injuries result from friction, shear forces, chronic pressure and collisions with surfaces that occur when athletes endure repetitive jump landings, accelerated starts and stops and other manoeuvres during rigorous training and competition. Ill-fitting skates, improper lacing techniques and insufficient lubrication or protective padding of the foot and ankle often contribute to the development of skin conditions that result from these physical and mechanical stresses. As we will explain, simple measures can frequently prevent the development of these conditions. The treatment of skater's nodules involves reduction in chronic stimulation of the malleoli, and the use of keratolytics and intralesional steroid injections; if malleolar bursitis develops, bursa aspirations may be required. Pump bumps, which result from repetitive friction posteriorly, can be prevented by wearing skates that fit correctly at the heel. Piezogenic pedal papules may be treated conservatively by using heel cups, compressive stockings and by reducing prolonged standing. Talon noir usually resolves without intervention within several weeks. The treatment of skate bite is centred on reducing compression by the skate tongue of the extensor tendons of the anterior ankle, which can be accomplished by use of proper lacing techniques, increasing pliability of the skate tongue and using protective padding, such as Bunga Pads™. Anti-inflammatory medications and cold compresses can also help reduce inflammation. Friction bullae are best managed by careful lancing of painful blisters and application of petrolatum or protective dressings to accelerate healing; preventative measures include the use of well fitting skates, proper lacing techniques and moisture-wicking socks. Corns and calluses are similarly best prevented by the use of well fitted skates and orthotic devices. Symptomatic, debridement reduces the irritant effect of the thick epidermis, and can be accomplished by soaking the area in warm water followed by paring. Application of creams with high concentrations of urea or salicylic acid can also soften callosities. Cases of onychocryptosis benefit from warm soaks, antibiotic ointments and topical steroids to reduce inflammation, but sometimes chemical or surgical matricectomies are required. Preventative measures of both onychocryptosis and skater's toe include cutting toenails straight across to allow for a more equal distribution of forces within the toe box. Finally, the prevention and treatment of lacerations, which constitute a potentially fatal type of mechanical injury, require special protective gear and acute surgical intervention with appropriate suturing. The subsequent companion review of skin conditions in ice skaters will discuss infectious, inflammatory and cold-induced dermatoses, with continued emphasis on clinical presentation, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

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