Grappling with herpes: Herpes gladiatorum

Thomas M. Becker, Robert Kodsi, Paula Bailey, Francis Lee, Richard Levandowski, Andre J. Nahmias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Initial reports of herpes gladiatorum, a skin infection of wrestlers caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV), fo cused on case histories and clinical presentations of this disease. To more adequately address broader ep idemiologic questions concerning this skin infection, we surveyed members of four southeastern college wres tling teams, sampled high school and college athletic trainers nationwide, and obtained serum specimens from members of one college wrestling team for HSV antibody studies. Nine of 48 (18.8%) college wrestlers in the southeastern athletic conference reported histo ries of herpes gladiatorum. Wrestlers with a prior history of oral HSV infection (cold sores) were less likely to report HSV skin infection than wrestlers without cold sores (RR = 0.25; 95% C.I. 0.03 to 1.8), while wrestlers with exposure to opponents with cutaneous HSV le sions were at high risk to develop herpes gladiatorum (RR = 9.4; 95% C.I. 2.2 to 40.0). The national survey of athletic trainers indicated that 7.6% of college wres tlers and 2.6% of high school wrestlers had HSV skin infection during the 1984-85 season. Herpes gladiato rum is a common problem among college wrestlers, and morbidity associated with this skin disease can be significant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-669
Number of pages5
JournalThe American Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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