Is There Bacteria Growing in Your Gear?

Is There Bacteria Growing in Your Gear?

There is no better breeding ground for trouble than unwashed football, lacrosse, or hockey padding. The mixture of sweat, blood, mucus, and debris after a tough game provides a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, fungus, and deadly viruses that can pose some health risks.

Do you know what’s forming in your gear? Now is the time to understand some of these contaminants.


A strain of Staphylococci known as "staph" or "MRSA" has developed a powerful resistance to all penicillin antibiotics. Some strains of MRSA are considered "superbugs" because they are associated with hospitals.

Generally, skin infections caused by Staph bacteria appear as swollen, painful red bumps similar to pimples caused by spider bites. There may be pus or other drainage present in the affected area. This kind of bump can quickly turn into a severe, painful abscess requiring surgical drainage if left untreated. You can get infections in your bones, joints, heart, and lungs when bacteria burrow deep inside the body.

Since MRSA originates in healthy skin and noses, a healthy person can easily transfer the bacteria to his or her sports equipment. The virus can enter your bloodstream through even the smallest cut.


All around us, molds of numerous species exist. Organic matter is fed and broken down by mold in nature. Moisture can easily attract microbes, which love feeding on your padding and deteriorating your sports gear.

Mold can cause skin rashes, nausea, headaches, bloody noses, respiratory illnesses such as asthma and pneumonitis, dry coughs, chest tightness, and upper respiratory infections.


A nasty fungal infection that affects various parts of the skin, ringworm is an unpleasant and contagious condition. As much as it may look like a worm, ringworm is actually an itchy, red patch that appears ring-shaped. If it shows up in hairy areas, bald spots can appear. Nails that are thick, discolored, or cracked can be symptoms of this condition.

Skin-to-skin contact can easily spread ringworm. This infection is therefore perfect for athletes who participate in contact sports. A contaminated jersey can also spread this disease.

What Athletes Can Do

You can prevent any of these infections if you play contact sports.