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Ringworm in BJJ: Facts, Causes, Prevention, & Treatment

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Ringworm in grappling-based martial arts is a very common thing to notice. It is important that you and the gym you are training at (as well as your partners) do you part in keeping the environment clean and sanitary. What does that look like you ask? here are some quick tips:

 

    • Wash yourself daily

    • Clip fingernails and toenails

    • Wash all your gear after every training session (no exceptions)

    • Do not use dirty gear

Seems reasonable right? Sometimes, these tricky fungal skin infections still find a way to make a presence in the wrestling room of the BJJ studio. Let’s look at how to prevent ringworm, some facts about the skin infection, and some ways to combat the spread.

bjj ringworm

Skin Infections (Ringworm) in Grappling Arts

Skin infections are a regular occurrence in grappling arts like wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or MMA. Due to the close physical contact, sweat involved, and a lack of hygiene, these sports create an environment where skin infections thrive.

Common skin infections in wrestling and grappling include ringworm, impetigo, and staph infections.

A Common Infection in Grappling: Ringworm

Ringworm is a common fungal infection that affects the skin, hair, or nails. It often forms a ring-shaped rash on the skin. This infection is caused by fungi getting into contact with your body which thrive in warm and moist environments.

Ringworm is very contagious and can be transmitted through direct contact with infected people or contaminated objects. Symptoms usually include red, itchy patches that may be scaly or have a raised border on the body.

bjj ringworm, wrestler ringworm

Common Causes of BJJ Ringworm

There are a variety of common causes of BJJ ringworm. Almost all of them are related to a lack of good hygiene. Some causes are:

Dirty Equipment

One of the most common reasons for being infected with ringworm in BJJ is training with unclean surfaces and dirty gym equipment. When training gear, mats, and other shared spaces in the gym are not properly cleaned they become breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi.

When athletes train and sweat on these dirty mats, they come into contact with the bacteria and thus get infected with a variety of infections.

Touching Someone Who Has It (Cheese Touch)

A common way of transmitting ringworm can be related to the infamous Cheese touch. Ringworm infections are extremely contagious and can be contracted with little contact.

It is possible that one of the reasons you caught ringworm in BJJ was because your training partner had ringworm. When training make sure you and your partner practice good hygiene.

bjj ringworm

How to Avoid Ringworm in BJJ?

Ringworm is a common fungal infection and a regular occurrence for BJJ practitioners and wrestlers. However, there are several ways you can easily avoid this highly contagious fungal infection.

Read below to learn all the precautionary measures you can take to prevent ringworm.

Train With Rash Guards and Spats

Using rash guards and spats while training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an excellent way to help prevent ringworm. These pieces of wrestling gear provide a barrier between your skin and potential sources of infection, like unclean mats in BJJ gyms or other people’s sweat.

A rash guard is a tight-fitting shirt that covers your upper body, while spats are like leggings that cover your legs. By wearing these during BJJ training, you minimize direct skin-to-skin contact and reduce the risk of any infection being spread.

Shower Immediately After Training

Showering immediately after BJJ training is an essential step to avoid this common fungal infection. Ringworm usually thrives in warm and moist environments, so washing away sweat and bacteria from your skin right after training is one of the best things you can do.

Be sure to use warm water and antifungal soaps to thoroughly clean your body and antifungal shampoo on your head.

Make sure to pay extra attention to areas that sweat more and receive less light, like the armpits, groin, and feet. Also, do not forget to dry yourself properly, as moisture can promote the growth of fungi.

Don’t Touch It!!

This is pretty self-explanatory as it is super-contagious. Touching it on one part of your body and then touching another part can spread it. Even if you do touch ringworm, ensure that you wash your hands properly at once.

Avoid Showing Up For Training Dirty

A big part of ensuring longevity in your BJJ journey and avoiding skin conditions is maintaining good hygiene yourself. Showering before training is just as important as showering after training.

Although unlikely, there is still a chance that if you show up to training dirty, the bacteria already on your body can react with the mats and training equipment. This could lead to redness and skin irritation.

You should also make sure all your gear is regularly washed with mild antifungal soaps or detergents. The risk of you being able to contract ringworm spores is significantly lowered when you take an ample amount of care beforehand.

Avoid Sharing Gear or Clothing

One of the best ways to prevent ringworm while training BJJ is to avoid sharing wrestling gear or clothing. Ringworm is highly contagious and can easily spread through direct contact with infected surfaces, so it’s essential to have your own set of equipment.

This means getting your rash guards, spats, towels, and anything else that comes into contact with your skin and gym mats.

Remember, you can only vouch for your own personal hygiene, not for the person you’ve shared your gear with. You could potentially contract ringworm if the other person does not take care of their hygiene.

Keep Your Training Gear Clean

Keeping your training gear clean holds huge significance. Your spats, rash guards, Gi, and everything else are the barrier between you and the dirty mats. Since they prevent direct contact, they are bound to become dirty and contract a plethora of dangerous fungi and bacteria.

Washing them with antifungal detergents and air drying them in the sunlight is an essential part of preventing ringworm and other skin infections.

bjj ringworm

What would happen if Ringworm is left untreated in BJJ?

If ringworm infection is left untreated it can lead to some not-so-fun consequences. Without proper treatment, it can spread to different body parts and worsen over time.

The initial symptoms can include intense itching, redness, and discoloration in the affected areas of the skin. If the affected area is scratched or broken, it can lead to secondary, more dangerous bacterial infections.

This can result in more painful, harsher symptoms, such as pus-filled blisters, pain, and even fever.

It is essential to seek prompt medical attention and a proper diagnosis and make sure to religiously follow all the given instructions and advice. Only then will you be able to recover within a few weeks and get back on the mats.

hwo to treat ringwrom

How to Treat Ringworm

When it comes to treating ringworm, there are several approaches depending on the severity of the infection. Make sure to choose the ringworm treatments that are right for you, this will help you save time and money.

Topical medication

Topical medication involves applying antifungal creams, lotions, or ointments directly on the ringworm. Options like clotrimazole, terbinafine, or miconazole are all effective choices in treating mild cases of ringworm.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the package and apply the medication for the given duration, even if the symptoms disappear. This will ensure that the infection has fully cleared and healed.

Even if you do not catch ringworm, occasionally using an antifungal cream or lotion is recommended to prevent it. These medications are also very mild meaning you can use them in sensitive areas as well like your groin area to prevent jock itch.

Systemic medication

In more severe cases, doctors may prescribe oral antifungal medication. These medications work from within your body by targeting fungal spores.

This type of medication is typically used when the infection has spread or when topical treatments are unable to do the job. Remember to take the prescribed medication properly as directed and complete the full course of treatment.

Oils (Tea Tree, Coconut Oil, etc)

Some people often find short-term relief using natural oils like tea tree oil or coconut oil.

Tea tree oil is known for having antifungal properties and can be applied directly to the affected area after mixing it with another carrier oil. Coconut oil has moisturizing properties which may help soothe the skin, reducing itching further irritation.

Although these oils may provide a bit of relief, you should note that they may not be as effective as prescribed medications like creams and oral medicine.

Even if you do not contract a skin infection, it is a good habit to occasionally use tea tree oil and other essential oils.

What Areas of the Body Are Most Susceptible to Ringworm

The areas that are most vulnerable to ringworm are those that are warm, moist, and often in contact with contaminated surfaces like dirty wrestling mats. Most of the time, skin infections strike the scalp, feet (athlete’s foot), groin (jock itch), and body (ringworm).

However, you should remember that ringworm can occur on any part of your body, including the face, hands, and under nails. It’s important to understand that ringworm can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender, which is why you must be extra cautious and wear adequate gear for wrestling.

Why Ringworm Should Be Addressed Immediately

It is strongly recommended you visit a skincare specialist when you see or feel any symptoms of ringworm. Symptoms like redness and itchiness are easy to spot and should be addressed immediately because it is highly contagious and can spread to other parts of your body.

When you do not treat ringworm and let it linger, it can worsen and leave long-lasting marks on your skin.

The Importance of Keeping The Gym Clean To Prevent Ringworm

Keeping the gym clean is super important, especially wrestling gyms to prevent the spread of ringworm. Ringworm is just one of the fungal skin infections that can be easily transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as gym gear, mats, or towels.

When you practice good hygiene practices, like wiping down equipment before and after use, joining a gym that prioritizes cleanliness, regularly washing gym clothes and towels, and avoiding sharing personal items, you can greatly reduce the risk of ringworm and other infections.

Ringworm From BJJ Training (FAQ)

Q: Should you scratch the itch from the ringworm?

When you get ringworm, make sure to not scratch the itch because it can spread the infection to other body parts or people.

What you should do is try using over-the-counter antifungal creams or ointments to help relieve the itch and treat it, treating ringworm infection is easy as most cases are not very severe

If home remedies and anti-fungal soaps do not work, or it gets worse it is better to consult a healthcare professional for further advice.

Q: How long does a ringworm infection last?

Ringworm can vary in duration depending on a few different factors. Most of the time, a mild case can take about 2-4 weeks to entirely clear up with proper treatment.

However, if the infection is of a severe degree or if it’s on certain areas of the body like the scalp, it may take longer to heal, sometimes close to several months.

It is essential to follow the treatment plan directions provided by a healthcare professional. It is also recommended to continue using antifungal creams and soap even after the symptoms disappear to ensure the ringworm infection is completely gone.

You should take into note that everyone’s experience is slightly different. So it’s always better to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice rather than self-mediating.

Q: Can you get ringworm on your scalp?

Ringworm can affect the scalp and it is called tinea capitis. It is more commonly occurring in children but adults can catch it too.

Symptoms can include reddish, scaly patches on the scalp, hair loss, and excessive itching. Make sure to seek medical attention ASAP, if you suspect a scalp infection to get the right diagnosis, and treatment and, avoid ringworm getting worse.

Antifungal medications, either in the form of oral tablets, or medicated shampoos, creams, or soaps are often prescribed to treat ringworm. Early treatment is key to preventing the infection from spreading and causing further damage.

Q: What can I do to avoid ringworm while training BJJ?

There are several precautions to take to prevent ringworm infections while training BJJ.

For starters make sure to maintain good personal hygiene and avoid direct skin-to-skin contact. Shower before training sessions and immediately after training and wash your training Gi, your gear, and towels, regularly.

Another important precaution is to avoid sharing personal items like towels, clothing, or equipment with others to minimize the risk of catching ringworm. It is also a good idea to keep your skin clean and dry at all times, ringworm tends to thrive in warm, dark, and moist environments.

Using antifungal powders or sprays on your body and feet to prevent fungal growth is also recommended.

Lastly, be mindful of any skin irritations, rashes, or redness, and seek prompt medical attention if you notice any suspicious patches. Taking these precautions will help you in preventing ringworm training in BJJ.

Q: How long before I can begin training again after being infected with ringworm?

The amount of time one needs to recover from ringworm depends on the person as well as the severity of the infection. In most cases, the infected person should wait 2-4 weeks to fully recover from all the symptoms.

However in severe cases, one might need a few months of rest and time away from training. In both scenarios, you should religiously follow the instructions of a healthcare specialist to ensure a swift healing process.

If you start training again too early, the chances that you spread ringworm or get infected again are much higher. This is because ringworm is highly contagious, especially during skin-to-skin contact.

Q: Is it possible for someone to have a recurrence of ringworm after they have been infected?

Yes, someone can still get infected with ringworm after treatment. Ringworm is caused by a fungal infection, which can lie dormant in the skin even after fully recovering.

A weakened immune system, poor hygiene, or contact with infected individuals or objects are all factors that can increase the risk of recurrence.

To minimize the chances of a skin infection, it is important to take adequate precautions. Focus on your hygiene by showering after each training session, avoiding direct skin-to-skin contact, keeping your training equipment clean, and not sharing it.

If you still see signs of infected skin, make sure to visit a skincare professional ASAP and follow their instructions to treat ringworm.

Q: How long after contact do ringworm symptoms appear?

Ringworm or any other skin infection symptoms can appear anywhere on your skin from 4 to 14 days after coming into contact with the fungus.

However, you should note that the incubation period can vary from person to person based on age, gender, and severity. Some may show symptoms quicker, while others may take longer.

You should keep an eye out for any reddish, scaly patches on the skin, itching, or hair loss on your body. If you think you’ve been exposed to ringworm or any other kind of fungal infection and notice any of these symptoms, you should visit a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

sources:

CDC. (2021, February 26). About ringworm. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/ringworm/

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (n.d.). Ringworm (body). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ringworm-body/symptoms-causes/syc-20353780

  • Cameron Allen

    Cameron is the Founder of Grapplers Graveyard. He is an entrepreneur, athlete, and life-long learner. His goal is to build businesses that help people become smarter, healthier, and happier. Avid Cold Plunger, Blue Belt, and Tech Sales Professional who has a passion for building websites.

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