Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a beautiful sport that builds physical strength, mental toughness, and lasting bonds between training partners. However, constant friction and close physical contact can take a toll on your skin. This article provides a complete guide to caring for your skin as a jiu-jitsu athlete.
One of the biggest skin hygiene concerns in jiu-jitsu is contracting contagious skin infections from training partners. The main culprits are staph infections, ringworm and warts. While not life-threatening to healthy adults, these conditions can be inconvenient and force you off the mats for days or weeks.
The best defence is proper hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after every practice. Shower immediately after training using gentle soap like the Dove Sensitive Skin bar. Thoroughly wash your gi, belt, rashguard, shorts and any other gear in hot water with detergent and dry on high heat. This kills bacteria and fungi that cause infections.
Disinfect any cuts, scrapes or open wounds before training with antibacterial ointment and properly bandage. Avoid training if actively bleeding or oozing. Don’t train with cold sores, which can spread the virus.
Inspect your skin as well as your training partners before each session. Look out for any suspicious rashes, lesions, or skin abnormalities. Don’t be afraid to ask your coach or training partner about anything that looks contagious. It’s better to miss one session than infect the entire gym.
If you suspect a skin infection, see a doctor immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment. Conditions like staph are highly contagious and potentially dangerous if left untreated. Oral antibiotics are required to clear most bacterial infections. Antifungal creams can treat ringworm.
Don’t try to “tough it out” with home remedies. They don’t work for aggressive infections. If diagnosed with something like staph, don’t return to training until the doctor confirms you are no longer contagious. Finish any prescribed antibiotic regimen even after symptoms disappear to prevent relapse.
Managing Common Skin Conditions
Many jiu-jitsu athletes also deal with chronic skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. While not contagious, these can become aggravated by constant contact and friction. Work with your dermatologist to keep flare-ups under control.
Eczema – Caused by dysfunctional skin barriers, eczema results in dry, sensitive, easily irritated skin. Use gentle, fragrance-free soaps like Dove Sensitive Skin Bar when showering. Moisturize immediately after washing when the skin is damp to “seal in” moisture. Thicker moisturizers like petroleum jelly work best.
Psoriasis – An autoimmune condition causing scaly, itchy plaques on knees, elbows, and scalp. Stay active to control flare-ups, as obesity exacerbates psoriasis. Work with your dermatologist to find treatment options if lifestyle changes aren’t sufficient.
Acne – Friction from gi and headgear causes acne along skin folds for some athletes. Wash affected areas daily with a benzoyl peroxide cleanser. Moisturize after washing. Prescription topical or oral medications may be needed for severe cases.
Bruising and Abraded Skin
It’s common to finish a tough training session covered in bruises and mat burns, especially when you’re new. Some simple steps can help your skin hold up better over time:
- Moisturize daily to heal dry, cracked skin that’s more prone to abrasions
- Drink plenty of water and eat vitamin C to support collagen production
- Consider wearing spats and long-sleeve rashguards to limit skin exposure
- Tap early in sparring to avoid excessive mat friction
- Apply Vaseline and protective bandages to minor cuts/scrapes before training
Very frequent or severe bruising could signal a health condition like anaemia or vitamin deficiency. See a doctor to be evaluated.
Protecting Against Aging
Jiu-jitsu’s physical demands combined with toxin exposure can prematurely age skin. Combat this with:
- Daily sunscreen on exposed skin – reapply every 2 hours outside
- Wear UPF-rated rashguards when training outdoors
- Stay hydrated and eat plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits/veggies
- Don’t smoke! This drastically speeds up collagen breakdown.
- Limit alcohol, which dehydrates the skin
Fundamentals of Jiu-Jitsu Skin Hygiene
Caring for your skin as a grappler doesn’t require a complicated routine, exotic products or expensive procedures. Just focus on these fundamentals:
- Cleanse – Wash regularly with a gentle cleanser to remove sweat, oils and grime
- Moisturize – Hydrate skin after washing to repair protective barriers
- Protect – Use rashguards, spats and wraps to limit skin abrasion and pathogen spread
- Inspect – Check yourself and your partners for any suspicious rashes, wounds or irritations
- Treat – See a doctor ASAP for proper diagnosis/treatment of infections
- Prevent – Stay healthy, hydrated and limit sun exposure to maintain youthful skin
With some basic precautions and consistent care, you can continue enjoying the art of jiu-jitsu well into your later years. Don’t neglect this vital aspect of your overall health. Consider warning signs and see a dermatologist at the first hint of infection. A little bit of prevention goes a long way in staying off the sidelines and on the mats where you belong. If you want to start your training in a clean, friendly environment, that cares about keeping you safe on and off the mats, join Apex MMA and check out our free 7-day trail.