Mat burn is a common problem among athletes; it is a regular occurrence and not something to be too worried about. It is easy to treat and even easier to prevent. Read below to learn all about mat burns, including what causes them, and how to treat them.
If you want to protect yourself from mat burn on the BJJ mats or wrestling mats, using protective gear like knee pads is a huge help.
What is Mat Burn?
Mat burn is a type of skin abrasion that occurs when your bare skin rubs against a rough and dirty surface, such as a gym mat or the ground. It is usually caused by repetitive friction and a rubbing and scraping motion, which can lead to the removal of the outermost layer of skin, therefore damaging it.
In most cases, it is caused by activities that involve direct skin contact with the ground or mats, such as sports, gymnastics, martial arts, or yoga, regularly participating in these sports can increase the risk of mat burn.
Most of the time, mat burns appear as a reddish, scaly wound on the skin. They are of a rough texture as the skin is unevenly damaged, and mat burns can also sometimes be painful, however, there are many ways to treat them and prevent mat burns.
How To Treat and Prevent BJJ Mat Burns
In most cases, mat burn is not a big deal. It can easily be treated at home, with a basic first aid kit. First of all, clean the mat burn wound by gently washing it with water and a mild soap.
After this, apply a thin layer of antibacterial ointment or Vaseline to heal the wound and prevent an infection. Although not necessary, it is recommended to wrap a normal or a liquid bandage to protect it, having your wound open can make it open to bacteria.
Prevent Mat Burn
As far as preventing mat burn is concerned, there are a few preventative measures you can take. Number one is of course to take care of your hygiene and train in a clean environment. Make sure to shower regularly before and after your training with an antifungal soap or shampoo.
Treating Mat Burn in 4 Steps
Clean the Wound
Apply Burn Cream or Healing Ointment
Cover the wound with sterile gauze
Which Areas of Your Body Are More Prone to Mat Burn?
Mat burn, which is also commonly referred to as friction burn or carpet burn, can occur in different areas of the body where there is direct contact between the skin and a rough surface, like a BJJ gym mat or the ground.
In most cases, the areas that are prone to mat burn include the knees, elbows, hands, feet, and at times, even the face. These areas are more vulnerable to skin burns due to their exposure during sports, such as gymnastics, martial arts, yoga, or any activity that involves direct floor contact.
Best Knee Pads
To prevent mat burn, it is recommended to wear protective gear like knee pads, elbow pads, or gloves, and to use mats or padded surfaces during training. It is also important to take care of your hygiene, taking these precautions can help you avoid mat burns or an infection from spreading.
Toes and Feet
Mat burn is a common occurrence on your toes and bare feet too. If you regularly practice gymnastics, Yoga, or wrestling. You can get skin burns on your toes and feet. Make sure to wear proper socks and footwear to protect them.
Mat burns in the knee area are also very common for those who train for wrestling and grappling. These sports involve a lot of groundwork where your lower body is often dragged across the mats. To protect yourself it is recommended to wear a rash guard or knee pads during your training session.
Elbow mat burn is also quite common for those who practice Yoga and calisthenics movements like push-ups and planks, however, it is not as severe and does not require any serious treatment. To prevent mat burn, you can wear elbow pads.
Getting mat burn on your face is quite rare, however it is still possible for those who practice and train for acrobatics and Martial arts. Things like falling on your face or just not maintaining good hygiene can cause mat burn.
Avoid bacteria from spreading on your face by showering before and after training, and by maintaining good technique and form during training.
What Is The Best Ointment For BJJ Mat Burns?
Several ointments can help treat mat burn. Some tried and tested options include antibiotic ointments like Neosporin or Bacitracin, as they help prevent infection and promote healing by reducing the spread of bacteria.
There are also specific creams and balms designed for treating skin burns, such as Aloe Vera gel or BurnJel. You can also use Vaseline to treat mat burn, applying a thin layer will ensure the wound does not dry out.
It is always recommended you visit a doctor or a skin care specialist before using any of the above. The reason is that they can give you professional advice based on your specific mat burn. Remember, everyone’s skin type is different, so make sure to religiously follow your doctor’s advice to avoid mat burn in the future.
Knee Pads Can Help Prevent Mat Burn
Knee pads are a great way to help prevent mat burn. They provide a layer of extra protection for your knees. They reduce friction and help you move smoothly on the ground, minimizing the chances of you getting mat burns.
They are usually made of high-quality and durable materials that can withstand years of rigorous training. They also come in all sorts of styles, shapes, and sizes, make sure to do your research and find the right knee pads for you.
Rash Guards as a Preventative Measure
Rash guards are also an excellent preventative measure against mat burns. They are specifically designed to protect your bare skin from burns and rashes when wrestling and doing groundwork.
They act as a layer between your skin and the mat, reducing the chance of you getting a friction burn and carpet burn. Rash guards are skin-tight and made from moisture-wicking, quick dry, and lightweight material to increase breathability and make sure your range of motion is not compromised.
These guards are available in all different styles and sizes so you can find one that fits your style, allowing you to fashionably prevent mat burn.
How Long Does It Take For Mat Burn To Heal?
Mat burn is not a severe issue, it is very common in ground combat sports like BJJ training and Wrestling. In most cases, mat burn takes around 1-2 weeks to fully heal, after which you can continue to train. On the other hand, it can take 2-4 weeks if it is severe.
To promote and speed up the healing process of minor burns, apply a mat burn cream, common antiseptic ointments, and a liquid bandage. These will protect the wound and prevent an infection.
Does Vaseline Help For Mat Burns?
Vaseline is an excellent option when it comes to applying an ointment on mat burns. Applying a thin layer of Vaseline or petroleum jelly is a great way to prevent the wound from drying out and promote faster healing.
It is also a good practice to wrap a bandage or use a liquid bandage on the wound after applying the Vaseline. If the condition of your mat burn still does not improve or worsen, consult a healthcare specialist for a better diagnosis.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How long do mat burns take to heal?
The amount of time it takes for mat burn to heal depends on the severity. In most cases it should heal within 1-2 weeks, however, if it is severe, it can take 3-4 weeks as well. During this time, make sure to keep the affected area clean, apply creams and ointments as needed, and bandages.
This will help you avoid further irritation and speed up the healing process.
How do you make mat burn stop hurting?
There are several measures you can take to make mat burn stop hurting. For starters, gently clean the affected area with water and mild soap to prevent an infection.
After cleaning it properly, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment and then wrap a bandage using cotton or a liquid bandage. Taking over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen can also help with easing the pain.
To speed up the healing significantly, make sure you do not apply pressure on the affected area. If the pain worsens or does not go away, visit a healthcare specialist for further treatment.
What does mat burn look like?
In most cases, mat burns appear as red, raw, and irritated patches on the skin. The size and shape of the mat burn depends on the severity and area of contact with the mat. It is often accompanied by pain, itchiness, tenderness, and sometimes small blisters.
Make sure to keep an eye on the affected area and perform the healing treatment as needed, ie, apply a liquid bandage and ointment after cleaning with cold water first.
Should I continue to train when I have severe mat burn? Tips to work around
In the situation of a severe case of mat burn, it is generally recommended to stop training, until you start to heal, or even better, heal completely.
However, if you need to train, modifying and changing your training session routine is the way to go. Focus on doing workouts that do not put pressure on the wound. If your mat burn is on your legs, focus on upper-body workouts and stretching.
Make sure to listen to your body to prevent the mat burn from getting worse. The more care you take and the more you rest, the sooner you’ll be in the gym.