While wrestling and BJJ are great sports they do have their downsides. One of those downsides is the likelihood of you contracting a skin infection. Wrestling and BJJ provide the most optimum conditions for skin infections to spread.
Skin infections spread like wildfire when there is lots of skin to skin contact between multiple people and are even more likely to be caught when the environment is humid and people are sweating.
Even though wrestling and BJJ is like Nirvana for ringworm and other nasty skin infections there are steps you can take to keep your skin healthy and reduce your likelihood of getting infected. In this article we will breakdown the relationship between grappling and ringworm and how to avoid it.
How To Avoid Ringworm From Wrestling And BJJ?
To avoid getting ringworm at wrestling or BJJ only train at a gym that regularly cleans their mats with bleach. Do not train with people who have ringworm, shower immediately after training and thoroughly wash all of your training gear. You should wear long clothing to reduce skin to skin contact.
To Avoid Ringworm Train At A Clean Wrestling/BJJ Gym
You would be surprised at some of the cleaning standards at wrestling and BJJ gyms. I once trained at a gym that cleaned the mats once a month if not less.
Of course it was not surprising that there were multiple ringworm outbreaks at this gym, which they only seemed to get under control when they finally purchased new mats and stopped allowing people with active infections to train.
Mat hygiene is a big contributor to your chance of getting a skin infection. Think about wrestling and BJJ training; all different parts of your body are being continually pressed and rubbed against the mat which potentially hundreds of people have spread their germs on.
If these mats are not routinely scrubbed with bleach you will be exposed to thousands of germs, bacteria and fungi making it a minor miracle that you survive a wrestling or BJJ training session without contracting ringworm.
Before signing up to a wrestling or BJJ gym you should inquire about their cleaning practices. Ideally, a grappling gym should be cleaning their mats after every training session but very few actually follow this routine. As long as your gym is cleaning their mats daily your chance of catching ringworm should drop significantly.
If your BJJ or wrestling academy does not clean their mats daily then you should look elsewhere as this is unhygienic and puts your skin health at risk.
To Avoid Getting Ringworm From Wrestling Or BJJ Do Not Train With People Who Have Ringworm
The number 1 way that ringworm spreads in wrestling or BJJ is through direct skin to skin contact with an infected person.
You can greatly reduce your chance of catching a nasty bout of ringworm by training at a gym that does not allow infected athletes to train and is diligent in policing this rule.
I have trained at a range of wrestling and BJJ gyms over the years. They all had varying degrees of skin related policies. Some could not care less and thought it was perfectly fine to train with a disgusting fully active ringworm infection. While others were overly paranoid and questioned any red bump or pimple on your skin.
You should train at a wrestling or BJJ academy that is serious about not allowing athletes to train with skin infections but at the same time doesn’t turn into the Gestapo and starts questioning obvious innocuous bumps.
You should also find a grappling gym that has a strong culture of self policing. Athletes should recognise that if they have an infection they should stay at home and treat it before coming back to training.
This may seem obvious and the right thing to do but many wrestlers and BJJ athletes are selfish and are only concerned with their own training, not thinking about how they could easily infect their teammates and cause a difficult to manage skin infection outbreak. Which if it becomes unmanageable could result in a temporary shut down of the gym.
To Prevent Catching Ringworm While At Wrestling Or BJJ Shower Immediately After Training
Coming into contact with the ringworm fungus is not a 100% guarantee you will become infected. Fortunately, this is the case otherwise wrestlers and BJJ athletes may be battling ringworm infections 24/7.
To further reduce your risk of contracting ringworm you need to shower as soon as possible after training. You should ensure you scrub your body thoroughly with soap. It is important you clean every area of your body.
By showering right after training you are protecting your body by not allowing any nasty germs, bacteria or fungi to linger on your and seep into your pores or get into your blood through cuts or grazes.
This is why ideally it is best to shower at your gym so you get your skin clean ASAP! You consider only training at a grappling gym which has a shower so you can wash as soon as training finishes.
If you can’t find a gym with a shower then you need to make sure you shower immediately when arriving home. The longer you wait to clean your skin the higher chance you have of getting ringworm or another skin infection.
To Avoid Ringworm Wash Your Wrestling And BJJ Gear Right Away!
Just as you need to shower as soon as training finishes you also need to wash your gear. If you leave your gear unwashed it retains all the disgusting bacteria, fungi and germs it absorbed while rolling around the mats and coming into contact with your training partners.
If you then go and wear this training gear for your next wrestling or BJJ session not only will you absorb all the filth that has soaked in your gear but you will spread it to your training partners. This is a great way to give yourself and others ringworm and skin infections.
To avoid ringworm as soon as you get home from a tough training session just grab all your gear, throw it in the washing machine and pour in an extra helping of detergent. This will ensure your gear is clean, free of fungi/bacteria and smells great which your teammates will appreciate.
The longer you let your dirty wrestling or BJJ gear sit the more entrenched the bacteria, fungi and germs become. It becomes increasingly harder to get your gear clean making it more likely you will suffer a skin infection the next time you show up to the academy in your favorite rash guard or shorts.
Wear Long Sleeve Clothing At Wrestling And BJJ To Prevent Ringworm
As mentioned previously skin to skin contact is the number 1 spreading mechanism of ringworm.
Wrestlers and BJJ athletes can reduce their amount of skin to skin contact with their teammates by wearing long sleeve clothing to cover their skin.
Many wrestlers and BJJ players have already taken this advice on board with tights or spats, long sleeve compression shirts, rash guards being commonly worn in both sports. These pieces of attire have become particularly fashionable in BJJ almost becoming a quasi uniform in No Gi BJJ.
If you are worried about ringworm then you should absolutely wear a long sleeve rash guard or compression shirt and match it with tights or spats to limit skin to skin contact as much as possible on the wrestling and BJJ mats.
While clothing does not offer anywhere near 100% protection against ringworm it does limit direct skin to skin contact which is the most effective way ringworm is spread. By limiting your skin to skin contact you are making it more difficult for the infection to spread, reducing your chance of contraction.