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Don't Let BJJ Skin Infections Tap You Out: Protect Yourself on the Mats

BJJ is a phenomenal sport, but like any close-contact activity, it comes with a certain risk of picking up BJJ...

BJJ is a phenomenal sport, but like any close-contact activity, it comes with a certain risk of picking up BJJ skin infections. Rolling around with training partners on the mats creates a breeding ground for bacteria, fungus, and even viruses, so it's crucial to be aware of the potential dangers and implement proper hygiene practices to stay healthy and keep training.

Common BJJ Skin Infections

  • Ringworm: This nasty fungus loves warm, moist environments – perfect conditions for it to thrive on sweaty BJJ mats. Watch out for the telltale ring-shaped patches of red, itchy skin.
  • Staph Infections: These bacterial infections can range from mild to serious, and if left untreated, they can even develop into MRSA, a dangerous antibiotic-resistant strain. Staph infections can show up as red, swollen bumps or boils.
  • Impetigo: These highly contagious bacterial sores typically start as small blisters that ooze fluid and crust over. Be extra cautious and avoid spreading them to others by keeping them covered.
  • Herpes Gladiatorum (Mat Herpes): Don't let the name fool you, this isn't the same type of herpes most people are familiar with. It's a viral infection that causes clusters of small, fluid-filled blisters.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

  • Redness: Keep an eye out for any unexpected red patches or streaks on your skin, especially after training.
  • Itching and Burning: These sensations, particularly in areas of friction like your neck or groin, could be signs of irritation or infection.
  • Blisters or Sores: The presence of fluid-filled bumps or open sores is a red flag and requires attention.
  • Rashes: Any unusual rashes or changes in your skin's texture can be potential indicators of infection.
  • Fever or Swollen Lymph Nodes: These symptoms might suggest a deeper infection and warrant a visit to the doctor.

Prevention is Key

  • Personal Hygiene: Showering immediately after training is a must. Wash your Gi and rash guards thoroughly and avoid sharing gear with others.
  • Mat Hygiene: Advocate for clean mats in your gym and encourage regular disinfecting practices.
  • Wound Care: If you have any cuts or scrapes, clean them properly and keep them covered with a bandage to prevent them from getting infected.
  • Communicate: Be open and honest with your training partners and coaches if you have any skin concerns. Early detection and treatment can prevent the spread of infections.

When to Seek Medical Attention

  • Worsening Symptoms: If your symptoms are spreading, not responding to basic care, or causing significant discomfort, see a doctor.
  • Fever or Swollen Lymph Nodes: These could indicate a more serious systemic infection and require medical professional attention.
  • Open Sores: Not only are they painful, but open sores also pose a risk of spreading infections to others. Getting them checked out by a doctor is crucial.

Why are BJJ Rash Guards Important?

While not a foolproof barrier, wearing a rash guard can help minimize skin-to-skin contact and reduce your chances of catching something nasty on the mats. Look for a rash guard made from breathable, moisture-wicking material to keep you comfortable and help prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus that causes BJJ skin infections.


Taking care of your skin health is essential for enjoying BJJ safely. By implementing good hygiene practices, being aware of the signs and symptoms of common BJJ skin infections, and seeking medical attention when needed, you can minimize your risk of getting tapped out by a skin infection and stay focused on rolling strong on the BJJ mats. Remember, sharing this information with your fellow grapplers can help raise awareness and keep everyone training healthy. OSS!

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