Shin Guard Rash

I recently had a player develop a heck of a case of shin guard rash and found a thread on the NC Soccer Forum that listed a number of possible remedies. Obviously if a rash persists you should see a doctor, but there were some very good suggestions from long time soccer parents and coaches about initial treatment, so I figured I’d share them:

  • Depends on the type of guards you use. The cloth-covered all-in-ones, with the legs straps and built-in ankle guards in the stirrups are the worst if you don’t wash them every once in a while and either bleach them or use lots of Lysol (and let them dry good too) The best are the slip-ins that can be cleaned off, be sure to wash the sleeves they go in though. Remember, bleach kills bugs and fungus so buy the white sleeves. [ed note: we have washed the cloth covered ones weekly – so far so good. Plus I think the benefit of the ankle guards outweigh any rash risk as long as you wash them on a regular basis]
  • Clean immediately with astringent, zit wash, or witch hazel – morning and night.
  • Beware of a neoprene allergy if they have foam linings.
  • Don’t share shin guards (MRSA infection risk).
  • Wear thin socks/stockings under the shinguards instead of them sitting against the skin. You can also get special rash guards.
  • It could be a fungal infection – try Lotrimin or other anti-fungal.
  • If the rash turns to open sores – make sure it is bandaged and only then use something like neosporin.
  • Buy multiple pairs of shin guards if kids play back to back days so they can be washed.
  • Switch brands.

Some common sense and the understanding that these rashes can be caused by any number of things, so some experimentation may be needed to prevent them in the future will go a long way. And of course, if it persists for more than a few days – get a professional opinion.

Any of you have other suggestions?

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  1. My daughter is seeing a dermatologist now for her persistent shin guard rash. The dermatologist told us it was a form of excema (which as a family we are prone to), and gave us several tips as well as a prescription for an extra strong excema creme. First, it’s important to keep the area clean (my kid is at the age where she’s not so convinced about that), and immediately after the shower, apply the creme and then an intensive yet non-scented moisterizer called Cerave. While my kid plays soccer too much for it to have totally cleared up yet, there has been a big improvement. She has to do the creme twice a day and the moisterizer at night once a day. It’s also recommended that we change shin guards — the moisture that they trap does indeed aggravate the excema.

  2. As dumb as it may sound, I never thought to wash the shin guards. Even my husband who played for 18 years never washed his. Our daughter keeps getting a nasty rash and we just thought it was the Microbial layer in them. The tips here are most helpful. Thank you!

  3. Sophia, you aren’t alone. I’ve encountered a LOT of parents who thought the guards would fall apart if they were washed, etc. so they never washed them. Honestly we started washing our son’s simply out of a need to ‘fight the funk’ because there’s nothing quite like ‘that smell’. But, the frequent washing has kept any rashes at bay. So far the Nike T90 guards our kids use have held up very well.

  4. Thank you sooooo much. This advice has helped me a lot. I started to get these rashes during fall soccer season and did not know why. It is now pretty obvious that it was my shin guards. I used to have red,bumpy,itchy,ozy legs but i dont anymore! Thank you so much :)

  5. umm i have this on my leg, and my mom says its because i started shaving this year so my pours were opened, can shaving contribute?

  6. My daughter never had a problem with shin guard rash until this year, when she started double practices. After her first practice, she would take her shin guards off and apply hand sanitizer to her legs and shin guards, then 30 minutes later put her shin guards back on for the 2nd practice. Hand sanitizer kills bacteria, but also removes your skins natural protective oil layer, so she was opening up her skin for irritation, sweat and anything else that developed during the 2nd practice.
    *If you are shaving, and not giving your skin time to redevelop its natural protective layer, you could be making your skin more open to bacteria.

  7. My son has been battling this rash for several years. We have seen doctors, washed his shin guards, purchased shin guards with fabric on the back, etc. Recently, the rash had gotten quite bad and started to spread. A dermatologist recently put him on an antibiodic for a secondary infection that has developed and a corticosteriod cream to be put on the rash areas for 2 weeks. He also stated to gently wash the area with Cetaphil Antibacterial Soap. So far it is starting to clear up. But hear are some additional suggestions given by the doctor and a local soccer store owner. Take of shin guards immediately after games/practices, shower and clean with antibacterial soap, wear clean shin guards daily (we bought 3 sets of guards), cut the foot out of a cotton tube sock for a sleeve to put between the skin and the shin guard, wash these tube sleeves daily or make a few pairs. Hope this helps!

  8. My daughter suffered with persistent shin rashes for a long time until I came across Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap. I did a lot of online research and after reading product reviews from people who had different types of eczema and dermatitis and had great results with this soap, I thought we’d try it. It really has worked wonders for my daughter and I highly recommend it. I purchase it in our local food co-op or health food store, but you can also purchase it online: Don’t be put off by the smell…it doesn’t stay on the skin.

  9. Great advice. Now how about de-stinkifying my daughter’s cleats. They aren’t allowed in the house anymore!

  10. My sons cleats smell so bad, I can’t even tell you. They smell like cat urine and we don’t have cats. I tried everything. Then I finally got a spray bottle and filled with water and bleach and started spraying the inside of the cleats at night. Worked like a charm. I have 5 boys and I won’t be without this bottle. If done at night it gives the shoes time to dry out. Works great. Now going to work on the shin rash. That is proving to be a problem.

  11. Definitely. We’re all familiar with ‘that smell’ ® OMG I’ve used crystal cat litter in nylons to make little ‘cleat stuffers’ and they help not only absorb the odor but also dry out the cleats. But the kids never put them back in (even I forget after a while) What ratio of bleach to water do you use?

  12. I started to get this rash a couple months ago, I thought I was allergic to the padding. Before my mom found this I have put one pair of soccer socks under my shinguards and one over. Now I know what to do. Thanks!!!!!!!

  13. For those of you who suffer from shin guard rash, check out the silver lined shin guard pads at We have been told by parents that the shin guard rash will go away within two weeks and will stay away. The secret is the silver lining on the shin guard pads – it prevents the build up of bacteria – even MRSA. All you do is apply the shin guard pads to your new or used shin guards and they will also never smell again. Look under products on

  14. Granddaughter had a sever rash that turned to MRSA infection. Tried a lot of things regarding washing and disinfecting the shin guards.

    My best results came with adhesive moleskin on the shin guard. Buy it at a wound care center it comes in a 9″x 4yd roll and can be attached to the shin guards so no neoprene touches the skin. She is finally clear of the rashes after two years of sever pain.

  15. Pingback: Shin guard is … | What is this ?

  16. We have a new Swedish invention that prevents Shin Pad Dermatitus . It is also probably the best shin guard in the World. It is designed so that only a very small part of the guard is in Contact with the leg.

    This is what the producer writes

    “BdeS™Shins™ will change the way you play forever.
    •The new ultra-lightweight soccer shin guard of the next generation!
    •Can save up to 1500 kg of reduced load per game.
    •Improved heat regulation will result in less energy consumption.
    •Anatomically optimized and hygienic foam impact protection.

    This new ultra- lightweight shin guard of the next generation is the first product in a series of new smart sports equipment from the company BdeS™. With BdeS™Shins™ you will be one step ahead of your opponent. You will not only be better protected, but much more energy efficient as well. This will result in greater performance throughout a game Less weight around your legs will also turn you into a faster player. You can reduce the load around your legs by up to 1500 kg during a normal game!

    You run an average of 15000 steps during a game. Normal shin guards can weigh 180 grams or more per pair. With the ultra- lightweight BdeS Shins weighing 80 grams per pair, you can save 100 grams per step thus resulting in up to 1500 kg per game! Your legs will be better heat-regulated! According to new acclaimed science reports, ventilation and cooling of your legs is a crucial factor in how much energy you consume.

    Your shins are a very important part of your body’s heat-regulating system! Better cooling will result in less carbon dioxide respiration, which directly corresponds to less energy consumption and increased strength. The ultra-breathable, non-moisture-absorbing and impact-protective foam edge is designed to optimize anatomic fit, improve ventilation, and improve hygiene. Offensive smells and bacteria-caused rashes and skin problems are now just memories of the past. Be the Best! BdeS™! ”

    You will find it att .

  17. I find a great thing that helps to (if you don’t want to wash them) is calf sleeves are cheap and easy to wash and stop the rash in a matter of weeks

  18. I have washed both shinguards and cleat in the washer. Remove laces and pull out the tongues of the cleats so water will get in them. rinse any visible chunks of mud under running water, you can soak them in a bucket to loosen it up. Put shinguards in a mesh bag (the velcro gets stuck on everything) and laces in a separate mesh bag. Throw everything in the washer. You can through in an old towel too, to avoid the banging against the walls of the washer. I have tried it in both top loaders and front loaders. Through everything in the washer in the cold water normal cycle (or a bulky/bedding cycle if your washer has one). Dry in the sun, or inside close to a an AC vent.
    I always do this before donating any outgrown cleats or tennis shoes, they look like new! and smells are gone.

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  20. Put baby powder in your shinguards before you play every time. Then wash them every time you can. The bumps are caused by sweat getting locked into your pores. You still may see some appear so just keep baby powder on after playing soccer also.