Skin infections are always a risk when training Jiu-jitsu, because bacteria and fungus thrive in moist environments, and can be transmitted from skin to skin contact; the best way to prevent them is by practicing good hygiene.
There are two skin infections that are the most common: Ringworm and Staphylococcus Aureus
Ringworm enters the skin through cuts and abrasions, and once an infection starts you will notice a severely itchy pink circle on your skin. The outer edge of the circular will often darken, and give the appearance of a “ring”. It could start out by localized itchiness, followed by a red pimple that eventually spreads to a circular pink area.
If you think you might have ringworm you should contact your doctor and ask about an anti-fungal cream. You need to stay off the mats until your infection is cleared because ringworm is extremely contagious. You should continue to use the topical anti-fungal cream for one week after the infection appears clear because you could still be carrying the infection.
At all times people carry this bacteria on their body, but occasionally, when we have a cut or abrasion, the bacteria can cause a dangerous infection. People can contract staph infections from contact with contaminated objects and surfaces, but most often staph is spread through skin-to-skin contact – When someone touches the infected area they are at risk of spreading the infection.
There are different types of Staph infections and they do not all look the same, but generally there are some symptoms you can look for. Keep an eye on any areas that develop painful, swollen, red pimples, or if you see a wound that has any pus or drainage. If you notice anything like that you should see a doctor immediately because if it is staph you can prevent some serious tissue damage if you catch it early.
Tips for preventing skin infections:
Best approach is good hygiene.
Wash your Gi after every training session.
Shower immediately after every training session.
Wear shoes or flip flops from the locker room to the mat. Never walk barefoot and then step onto the mat.
Cover all cuts and abrasions while training – if you can’t cover something properly consider taking time away from the mat.
Consider wearing a rash guard under your gi, or at the least a t-shirt, for extra coverage, and wash after every class.
Use an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial soap after every class.
Are there skin infections going around your gym?
Since these skin infections are so incredibly contagious, often there will be a mini “outbreak” at your gym where a few people have reported getting skin infections. If this happens, your gym should take extra steps to protect its students – and the students should be extra diligent to protect themselves and their training partners.
Wash the mats often – after every class or training session.
Do not roll with an infected person – If you see someone with a rash, or what looks to be an infection, speak up to your instructor and let them handle it.
Do not walk on the mats with your shoes – You can track in fungus and bacteria.
What do you do if you get a skin infection?
Stay off the mat! Skin infections are extremely contagious and you can spread it to your training partners.
Covering up your infection is not enough protection to train – You are still putting your training partners at risk by training.
Get treatment – that could mean visiting the doctor for a prescription or a simple over the counter cream.
Continue taking prescriptions and creams for one week after infection clears – always finish your prescription even if you feel better.
Wash your Gi, clothes, towels, and bedding – anything you have come into contact with. Spray down surfaces with a disinfectant spray.
Shower, Shower, Shower.