South Dakota Department of Health
Office of Disease Prevention - 605-773-3737 — (1-800-592-1861 in South Dakota only)
This material is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute
for medical care. We are not able to answer personal medical questions. Please see your
health care provider concerning appropriate care, treatment or other medical advice.
What is herpes gladiatorum?
Herpes gladiatorum is a skin infection caused by herpes simplex virus, which causes a rash usually on the head, face, neck, shoulders, arms or trunk. Sometimes the eyes may become infected.
Herpes gladiatorum occurs more frequently in wrestlers than in the general population due to the close physical contact of the sport.
How does it occur?
An infected person can pass the virus to an uninfected person by skin-to-skin contact. The rash starts 3-8 days after contact with an infected person.
Usually there is a rash or cluster of small blisters that may be painful or painless. A fever and swollen lymph glands may also be present. The rash generally lasts up to 10 to 14 days. There may be a later reoccurrence of the rash.
See a physician. After examining the skin the physician may do a viral culture for herpes virus. Other skin infections may also cause rashes, blisters or lesions.
A physician may prescribe a medicine to speed recovery.
Watch for any rashes or blisters. Do not wrestle if you or your opponent has a skin infection or rash. Shower immediately after wrestling practice or competition. Wrestling mats and headgear should be routinely cleaned and disinfected. Don’t share towels.
For more information
Skin Infections in Wrestlers, by B.J. Anderson, M.D.,