Unwashed sports padding for football, lacrosse, and hockey players are the ideal breeding ground for trouble. While a strong odor after a tough game is typical, the mixture of sweat, blood, mucus, and debris provide a haven for bacteria, mold, fungus, and deadly viruses that can pose some hazardous health risks.
Do you really know what’s lurking in your gear? It’s time to understand some of these contaminants.
Staphylococci, commonly known as “staph” or “MRSA,” is a particular strain that has developed a powerful antibiotic resistance to all penicillin. Although typically viewed as a hospital-related infection, some strains of MRSA is referred to as the “superbug.”
Staph skin infections generally initially appear as swollen, painful red bumps that closely resemble pimples of spider bites. The affected area may be warm to the touch or full of pus or other drainage. If not treated, these bumps can quickly escalate into deep, painful abscesses that require surgical draining. Sometimes, the bacteria can burrow deep inside the body and cause life-threatening infections to your bones, joints, heart, and lungs.
Since MRSA originates in your healthy skin and nose, it can easily be transferred onto your sports equipment. If you have even the smallest cut, the virus can then enter into your bloodstream.
Strep is a painful inflammation of your throat and tonsil infection. The infection is 90 percent viral and can easily be transmitted from player to player. It can be found in communal areas, such as doorknobs or drinking fountains. Symptoms include a fever, headaches, rash, body aches, nausea, painful swallowing, and throat pain.
In its worst form, strep can be responsible for pneumonia, flesh-eating bacteria, and meningitis.
Part of the Caliciviridae medical family, this outbreak was named after the location in which it first appeared, Norwalk, Ohio. Since then, it has appeared in changing rooms of schools where sweaty, used equipment creates the perfect breeding ground. Symptoms appear 24 to 48 hours after exposure and include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headaches, and fever.
There are numerous species of mold that exist everywhere in the environment. In nature, mold performs the imperative function of feeding and breaking down organic matter. These microbes can easily appear in moist sports gear and love feeding on your padding, causing the deterioration of your gear.
Health issues associated with mold include skin rashes, nausea, headaches, bloody noses, asthma, pneumonitis, dry cough, chest tightness, and upper respiratory problems.
Ringworm is a nasty and contagious fungal infection that affects various areas of the skin. Ringworm is not actually a worm but is still a pesky nuisance and appears as one or more red and raised itchy patches that resemble a “ring.” If it shows up in hairy areas, bald spots may appear. If the nails are afflicted, they may become thicker and discolored or may begin to crack.
Ringworm can spread easily through skin-to-skin contact. Contact sports athletes are thus perfect targets for this infection. It can also be spread through contaminated items such as tainted sporting gear.
What You Can Do
If you’re a contact sports player, there are several steps you can take in order to avoid getting any of these infections.
- Shower with soap immediately after each game or practice
- Wipe down non-washable gear with 70 percent to 90 percent alcohol
- Clean surfaces on a regular basis
- Wipe down athletic equipment regularly
- Get your gear professionally cleaned every four to six weeks
How Choice CleanGear Can Help
With more than six years of service, Choice CleanGear has earned a great reputation within the gear cleaning industry. We use a patented, fully engineered cleaning system in a state-of-the-art facility that thoroughly washes and sanitizes your gear without damaging the equipment. Our Esporta Wash System kills 99.9997 percent of the bacteria that may be growing in your gear.
Trust in us to keep your gear sanitized and you safe to stay in the game!