How to prevent skin infection for BJJ and grappling practitioners
Note: The information in this article is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to offer medical advice or to offer medical diagnoses or to suggest treatments.
As a Jiu Jitsu practitioner, battling skin infections can be a daunting and frustrating task, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little education, the proper hygiene regimen and swift action when an infection occurs you will spend more time on the mats rather than being benched by a preventable disease. At one point or another, BJJ practitioners, grapplers and wrestlers will come into contact with ringworm or some other sort of skin infection during their training. With all of the contact comes some very real risks, ones that can be serious but are avoidable. Your skin health is not only important for your own well-being, it will keep you on the mats and ready for competition season after season. More importantly, skin health is a team effort; it only takes one single infection to cause an outbreak.
Healthy Human Microbia
Human skin flora— also referred to as skin microbiota— are the microscopic organisms that live all over our skin. Most of them are classified as “healthy or good bacteria.” It is estimated that there are more than 1 trillion of them happily coexisting with us—in fact, protecting us. Having a healthy balance of skin flora is critical to our health. These bacteria provide the benefit of preventing harmful (pathogenic) organisms from colonizing on our skin’s surfaces. However, invading organisms picked up from skin-to-skin contact or coming into contact with infected equipment and clothes are not the only problem. Even “resident” bacteria can enter our blood stream through broken skin, abrasions or wounds. Potentially life-threatening diseases can occur, especially if your immune system is suppressed.
Top 3 skin infections in BJJ and grappling Ringworm - Ringworm is spread by either direct or indirect contact. People can most easily contract ringworm by direct skin -to-skin contact with an infected person or pet. People can also get ringworm indirectly by contact with objects or surfaces that an infected person has touched, such as kimonos, belts, tatami mats, gym bags, shower stalls, and wrestling mats.
MRSA or Staph - Highly resistant bacterial infection characterized by skin abscesses, drainage of pus or other fluids from the site, and fever. Warmth is common around the infected area.
Herpes - Herpes is contracted through direct skin contact with an infected person. The virus travels through tiny breaks in the skin or through moist areas, but symptoms may not appear for up to a month or more after infection.
Personal hygiene for athletes is critical. Make these 8 essential tips part of your daily hygiene routine: 1. Wash your hands with a natural soap and water frequently 2. Keep cuts and abrasions covered during practice 3. Avoid contact with other person’s wounds 4. Don’t share towels, clothing or equipment (like boxing gloves) with others 5. Bathe with a soap that does not wash of the natural protective flora on your skin, or use protective wipes as soon after practice and play as possible 6. Change clothes frequently and don’t leave wet, dirty clothes in the locker to incubate until the next training 7. Early reporting and proper treatment of skin lesions by an athlete is key to preventing it from spreading 8. Avoid using antibacterial soap
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Offense wins matches. Defense keeps you on the mat. The complete Defense Soap assortment is available in the Defense Soap webshop . The information contained in this article is for general consumer understanding and education, and should not be considered or used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of skin infections.