“BJJ and Your Skin”
by Lauren LaCourse (Blogger, WBBJJ.com)
**DISCLAIMER** This article might gross you out, but I feel like it is important to share my latest BJJ mishap with you.
As white belts, some of us are starting our Jiu Jitsu journey with no prior experience in grappling. Because of that, many of us are unaware of the more obscure hazards that can accompany our new found art. Playing the game of Jiu Jitsu entails that we spar, rolling around on mats, in close proximity to other human beings. I was one of the people who were unaware of some of the more obscure hazards of rolling Jiu Jitsu.
It started a few days ago. I noticed a small cluster of two or three bumps on the underside of my chin. As the day progressed they became itchy. I had become used to breakouts after a hard week of training, so I didn’t think much of it. BUT, the next day a crusty, yellowish scab had formed where the cluster had been.
I had heard that skin diseases like ringworm could be contracted with frequent time spent on the mats. Concerned, I mentioned my recent discovery to one of my fellow coaches. As a high school wrestler, he was aware of the different types of skin diseases that could be spread through grappling, and had a look. After confirming it was not ringworm, he advised me to take some time off and have a doctor look at it; since there are many other types of bacteria and viruses that could be causing the scab.
I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for the next day. Naturally, being the curious hypochondriac that I am, I decided to Google the types of skin diseases that commonly affect grapplers. I came across an article that explains the most common wrestling skin diseases. According to the article the biggest offenders were ringworm, herpes simplex, impetigo, and staph/MRSA.
You can probably imagine my horror reading that diseases like herpes can be spread through the close contact required of BJJ and other grappling arts. Herpes?! REALLY?! That entire night was spent without rest, and I tossed and turned over my impending appointment (which felt like it was going to be a death sentence).
The next morning I saw my doctor, explained my extracurricular activities, and showed her my symptoms. She looked over the scab, shrugged her shoulders, and stated that I had contracted “impetigo”. My heart started to race. I felt myself falling into a panic attack. She then lightheartedly explained that impetigo is common (especially when wrestling season begins) and can be easily cured with an antibiotic.
As relief washed over me, I suddenly realized that I could have possibly spread this contagious bacteria to my fellow teammates! Thankfully I had only rolled with my training partner Caitlin that week, so I called and notified her of my recent diagnosis. I also notified my coaches to warn others at the gym that precautions should be taken.
If you are like me, at this point you are probably wondering, “What are some precautions I can take, and what can I do, to avoid contracting a skin disease from grappling?”
First, and foremost: Practice good hygiene. This includes showering before as well as after training. We all carry diseases on our skin. It is important to wash regularly with soap and water, to minimize the amount of bacteria residing there. Showering before training will assist this. It is also a good idea to not trust another person’s hygiene. Showering after practice will help keep you protected from any bacteria transferred to you, from those you train with.
Second: Be vigilant. Research the common skin diseases associated with the grappling arts, and regularly check your body for any abnormalities. If you do see anything amiss, take a break from training until you have had a doctor’s examination. Most importantly, follow your doctor’s orders until the issue is resolved. Being responsible in this way, will help keep you and others from suffering any further complications.
If after reading this, you have become totally grossed out, like I admittedly was. I have some really great news. Almost all of the skin diseases that can be contracted through grappling can be cured with a simple prescription. They are not always as scary as they look. They are not always as gross as you might think (for example; ringworm, isn’t worms). You are not abnormal if you do happen to get one.
The thought of contracting skin diseases should not keep you from practicing BJJ (or other grappling arts). The thought of contracting skin diseases should serve to encourage you to be mindful of your health, and to have body awareness.
Good luck! And keep on rollin’.
This blog post was written by Lauren LaCourse of WBBJJ.com
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: Lauren’s Facebook