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Application of a wet sponge to the body surface to aid cooling or to treat minor injuries. During exercise, the skin temperature rises causing peripheral blood vessels to dilate and blood to pool in the extremities. Sponging is an effective way of cooling the body surface so that the vessels constrict and blood is returned to the general circulation, However, although sponging may have circulatory benefits and help an athlete to feel cooler, it does not seem to aid heat loss. Sponging is a traditional primary treatment of minor injuries in sports such as rugby and soccer. Application of cold water may have an analgesic effect, but sponging should not use water from a communal bucket because of the risk of transmission of blood-borne diseases. Athletes suffering from oozing or bleeding wounds should be removed from the field of play and the appropriate treatment given under hygienic conditions.

Subjects: Sports and Exercise Medicine.

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