BJJ Skin Infections (How To Prevent & Treat Them)

By Tsavo NealLearning BJJLeave a Comment

bjj skin infections

In this article, I’ll break down the most common BJJ skin infections and how to prevent them.

They are staph infection, ringworm, and jock itch.

I’ll also share the best practices for BJJ hygiene to give yourself the best chance of avoiding these infections.

Let’s dive in.

(NOTE: I am not a doctor. I’m merely curating what I’ve found. If you have symptoms, go and see your GP or a dermatologist.)

BJJ Skin Infections: Jump To Section

1. Staph Infection

What is staph infection?

Staph infection is an infection caused by a bacteria called Staphylococcus.

It’s relatively harmless on your skin. But if it gets inside an open wound, it can be very dangerous.

staph infection bjj

There are a few different types of staph infection to watch out for:

  • MRSA
  • Cellulitis
  • Impetigo

How do you get staph infection?

Staph infection can be spread in BJJ by skin-to-skin contact with an infected training partner.

It can also be spread if you’re rolling on contaminated mats.

Symptoms of staph infection include:

  • Painful red lesion on the skin
  • Swollen red skin
  • Blisters or crusted wounds

How do you prevent staph infection?

  • Make sure any cuts are cleaned before and after training and covered during class.
  • Take a shower after BJJ class.
  • Wash your gi and any other gear you wear to class.
  • Do not share clothing or towels.
  • Ensure the mats are cleaned before and after practice.
  • Follow the rest of the best practices for BJJ hygiene.

How do you treat staph infection?

If you suspect you have staph infection, go and see your doctor.

They will likely provide you with an antibiotic to treat the infection. Or, they might provide you with a topical solution. Some infections require draining, cleaning, or surgery.

Do not train if you have an active infection, as staph is contagious.

2. Ringworm

What is ringworm?

Ringworm is a contagious infection of the skin caused by fungus.

It looks like a red, swollen ring:

ringworm bjj skin infection

Ringworm is one of the most common skin infections people get in BJJ. However, it is relatively harmless.

How do you get ringworm?

Ringworm is highly contagious and can be spread among people who are grappling.

The fungus that causes ringworm grows in warm, dark, and humid places. So it can also be spread in locker rooms or from sharing clothing.

The symptoms of ringworm include:

  • A small red rash on your skin that is spreading like a circle (a “ring”)
  • At the edges of the rash, there are bumps
  • The rash is itchy and/or burns

How do you prevent ringworm?

  • Take a shower after BJJ class.
  • Wash your gi and any other gear you wear to class.
  • Do not share clothing or towels.
  • Ensure the mats are cleaned before and after practice.

How do you treat ringworm?

Mild ringworm infections can be treated with Lamisil or Lotrimin topical creams. This will eliminate ringworm in 1-2 weeks.

If the topical doesn’t work, a more serious infection might require an oral antibiotic prescribed by your doctor.

If you suspect you have ringworm, go and see your doctor.

3. Jock Itch

What is jock itch?

Jock itch is a type of infection common to athletes.

It’s caused by fungus and often presents as a rash near the groin area.

jock itch bjj skin infections

The rashes are mild but can cause symptoms like itching.

How do you get jock itch?

Jock itch grows in warm, moist areas. It’s most commonly found in men.

It can also be spread from skin-to-skin contact.

A fungal infection of the foot, known as “athlete’s foot,” can also spread the rash.

Symptoms of jock itch include:

  • A red, itchy rash in your groin area
  • A burn or an itch
  • Flaky or scaly skin

How do you prevent jock itch?

  • Take a shower after BJJ class.
  • Ensure you dry off completely after showering, and allow your groin to dry.
  • Use powder on your groin area to reduce sweating.
  • Wear clean underwear every day.
  • Wash your gi and other things you wear to class.
  • Do not share clothing or towels.
  • Ensure the mats are cleaned before and after practice.
  • Follow the rest of the best practices for BJJ hygiene.

How do you treat jock itch?

Jock itch can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal creams.

These include clotrimazole, miconazole, and other creams.

In most cases, these ointments will get rid of your rashes in a few weeks.

However, if you’re having trouble getting rid of your rashes, go and see your doctor.

BJJ Hygiene Best Practices

Follow the best practices for washing your gi: wash your gear as soon as you can after every class (including your belt). Shower as soon as you can after class (use a gentle soap) and check yourself for any possible red spots, rashes, or cuts.

Wear clean, dry gear to class. Don’t share gear or towels with your training partners.

Ensure that your gym follows basic best hygiene practices. Nobody walks off the mats without putting on their sandals first. And the mats are cleaned with a bleach solution after every class. Do it yourself to make sure.

If you have any symptoms, go and see your doctor or dermatologist.

Do not train if you have an active infection or if you’re sick. Avoid training with people who have swollen red spots on their bodies. These infections are highly contagious and will spread training jiu-jitsu.

If you have any cuts or bumps after training, immediately treat them by applying Neosporin.

When you’re training in the gi, wear a long-sleeve rashguard and spats underneath your gi. When you’re training no-gi, wear a long-sleeve rash guard, and spats underneath your shorts. This limits your skin-to-skin contact.

Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. And beware of stress and overtraining: when your body is struggling to recover, you are more susceptible to infections.

Ensure that your gym’s mats are being cleaned after every class with a bleach solution. Do it yourself to make sure.

Clean your gear bag every few weeks. Either throw it in the wash or use disinfectant wipes to clean it. Air it out after training.

You can try anti-fungal soap like Defense Soap or Armbar soap. However, there is limited evidence that it’s any better than normal soap — but some BJJ players like it.

Once a month, consider taking a “bleach bath.” Pour 1/2 a cup of regular 5% strength liquid bleach in a bathtub full of water up to your neck, and soak in it for 15 minutes. This helps reduce the buildup of microorganisms.

Consider wearing sambo shoes while training to protect your feet and avoid getting athlete’s foot.

And lastly, don’t overdo it. If you shower excessively using multiple different products, you risk causing imbalances in the natural flora in your skin, which protects you. Keep it simple. Shower (gently) after class, wash your gear and make sure your gym is kept clean.

BJJ Skin Infections: Conclusion

So there you have it: the most common BJJ skin infection and how to prevent them.

Using these methods, I’ve never had an infection in over 3 years of training. Knock on wood.

What’s your strategy for preventing skin infections? Are there any BJJ hygiene best practices I’ve missed?

Let me know in the comments below.

Happy rolling. 🤙


tsavo neal bjjequipment.com

Tsavo Neal

Tsavo is the founder of BJJ Equipment, an assistant BJJ instructor at InFighting, and a BJJ purple belt. He's a passionate hobbyist and BJJ gear/equipment aficionado. He launched BJJ Equipment in 2022 to make it easy for grapplers to find the best BJJ gear so they look, feel, and perform at their best on the mats.

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