Shin Guard Dermatitis: How to Avoid It

Jan 9, 2023

Some of you are familiar with this scenario: your kid removes their shin guards to scratch a rash on their legs. It’s irritating for them and nerve-wracking for you. That is known as shin guard dermatitis, a common affliction for soccer players. Although it’s not fun to have (or watch), it’s easy to avoid, and this post will provide some insights on how to prevent (and treat) it. 

What the heck is shin guard dermatitis?

Any rash that affects the shins and seems to occur only after wearing shin pads could be considered shin guard dermatitis. The shins turn red and swell, and bumps appear along with soreness and burning. The rash usually forms under the shin pad, not spreading further. Aside from that presentation, shin guard dermatitis is somewhat of a mystery for players and doctors.

What causes shin guard dermatitis

Speaking of mysteries, one of the more confusing aspects of the condition is the cause—no one knows for sure. However, the likely causes of shin guard dermatitis are: 


  • An allergy to the material compounds in the shin pads, such as acetophenone azine (allergic contact dermatitis)
  • Sensitivity to chemicals in the shin pad’s materials (irritant contact dermatitis)
  • Heat, sweat, and friction 
  • Possible bacterial or fungal infection. It’s quite likely players who get the condition might acquire it through any of these causes. 


Certain triggers might lead to slightly different symptoms. For example, an allergy may lead mainly to itching and redness. There may also be scaling and crusting. However, if chemicals are the cause, there may also be burning and pain, along with dryness and eventual blistering.   

How to prevent shin guard dermatitis

That all sounds scary, but the good news is that shin guard dermatitis is treatable and, more importantly, preventable. Prevention boils down to choosing the right shin pads and keeping your shins hydrated and clean. The combination of the two is, of course, the best. 

Antibacterial shin guards and leg sleeves

The right shin guards (and leg sleeves) will be made with materials with a low propensity for causing allergies or irritation. Of course, everyone is different, so some people will be affected regardless, but certain fabrics are more hypoallergenic than others. 


Also, your shin guards should contain sweat-wicking materials. These materials pull sweat from your skin through tiny holes in the fabric and onto the surface, where it evaporates. That helps keep the shins dry and reduces the risk of irritation. 


Lastly, opt for shin guards and leg sleeves that contain antibacterial treatments. You don’t see it on many leg sleeves, but some have this treatment to help ward off germs that may get under the skin and trigger or aggravate symptoms. 


Fortunately, our BodyShield Leg Guards and Knee Guards contain all the above-mentioned features. They’re made with hypoallergenic compounds, sweat-wicking materials, and antibacterial treatments.  Combining all three can reduce the irritants your skin comes in contact with and, therefore, reduce the likelihood of getting shin guard dermatitis. 

Practice good hygiene

Of course, hygiene is always a big deal when dealing with any type of dermatitis. That isn’t a slight on you by any chance; just a reminder that what you do before and after games can make all the difference. 


For starters, wash your shin pads and leg sleeves regularly to eliminate sweat and bacteria. A note to parents: you’ll have to do it or remind your young players to do it. Give the shins time to breathe after a game. In other words, a player should remove a sleeve immediately after a game; don’t leave them on. 


That allows the skin to breathe and prevents excessive exposure to sweat and moisture (which promotes irritation). It’s also crucial to keep the area clean with regular washing, soap, and moisturizing to prevent cracking of the skin, which may encourage irritation. 

Give shin guard dermatitis a red card

The good news about shin guard dermatitis is that it often goes away on its own and is usually easy to treat if necessary. The typical line of treatment is a form of medicated cream. A dermatologist may also recommend avoiding certain materials and may arrange for you to get an allergy test to see if the player has a sensitivity. Ultimately, it’s the dermatologist's call. 


We want to remind you that shin guard dermatitis isn’t something to lose sleep over. It’s simple to get rid of and even easier to prevent. With products such as BodyShield Leg Guards and a good skin-care routine, you can ensure that shin guard dermatitis gets no playing time on your legs. 


Looking for shin protection you can rely on? Check out our Storelli BodyShield Leg Guards for no-nonsense, irritation-free coverage! 

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