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Preventing Skin Infections While Training Jiu Jitsu

Updated on May 3, 2012

What are the most common skin infections?

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. Read on to learn how to prevent these skin infections, spot symptoms, and what to do if you find out you have contracted an infection. Both of these infections thrive in warm and humid environments, and excessive sweating can increase your chances of contracting an infection. Keep yourself, and your training partners, healthy by educating yourself about the risks of skin infection that comes along with contact sports like jiu jitsu.

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What is Ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungal infection - not an actual worm.

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 antifungal 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 antifungal cream for one week after the infection appears clear because you could still be carrying the infection.

What is Staph?

Staphylococcus Aureus, or Staph for short, is a type of bacteria that commonly causes various skin and soft tissue infections.

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.

the best way to prevent a skin infection is by practicing good hygiene

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 - I like Defense Soap.

Defense Soap - The Combat Athlete's Soap

Protect yourself from skin infections with this natural antibacterial soap designed for contact fighters and wrestlers.

This soap is an all natural bar with ingredients that have been proven to have anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Since it is an all natural soap it will not strip your skin of it's normal bacteria to help your skin keep its balance. Using soap like this, and washing your Gi, after every class will greatly decrease your risk of skin infection.

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.

Skin Infection Poll

Have you, or someone you know, contracted a skin infection while training?

See results

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 something like Lysol.
  • Shower, Shower, Shower.

Anti-fungal Cream for Ringworm

This anti-fungal cream will cure most ringworm infections and relieve the itching and discomfort associated with the condition. As with other over-the-counter treatments, if your symptoms are not improved you should seek medical attention for a stronger prescription.


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      tomcallos 5 years ago

      @CaliforniaGrown: Please contact me at tomcallos at g mail dot com IF you'd like to do a little quick-collaboration on this piece for Mike Swain / Dollamur. You'd be joining Guy at the defense soap company too.

    • CaliforniaGrown profile image

      CaliforniaGrown 5 years ago

      @tomcallos: Tomcallos â Iâm honored! Thank you for featuring my article on your site and for helping to increase awareness about preventing skin infections. Itâs an important topic everyone should be educated on if they participate in martial arts.

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      tomcallos 5 years ago

      I'm very pleased to have found your post. At the moment, I'm helping Dollamur Sports Surfaces and Mike Swain Mats ( to put together some quick and easy-to-follow tutorials that can help bring martial arts school owners, teachers, staff members, student, and parents up to speed on what they need to know. Your piece here is an excellent resource. See the work at