A guide for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes to recognize, prevent, and treat ringworm & staph infection

Today, the martial arts coaches of Straight Blast Gym Buford are going to share with you some valuable tips on how you can protect yourself (and your teammates) from the nastyness that is Ringworm and/or Staph Infection.

One of the issues that martial arts gyms (especially ones that specialize in grappling arts like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Wrestling) have to be incredibly conscious of is the potential outbreak of ringworm, or worse yet staph infection. First and foremost, it's important to understand what these two viruses are.

Ringworm is a highly contagious, fungal infection of the skin or scalp. This nasty fungus is spread via skin-to-skin contact or by touching an infected person or object. Ringworm is typically scaly and may be red and itchy. Ringworm is not always visible and can grow on your scalp, so be sure to feel around when washing your hair. If need be, have a friend or training partner check out your scalp.

Staph is an infection that is caused by bacteria that are commonly found on the skin or in the nose. Staph can be spread person-to-person and is very contagious. These bacteria strains can spread easily through cuts, abrasions, and via skin-to-skin contact. Staph infections can also spread through the sharing of razors, towels, uniforms, or equipment. A lot of people who contract Staph mistake it for a rash, pimple, or blister.

So how can you prevent contracting ringworm and staph?

At Straight Blast Gym Buford, we make it a point to clean our martial arts training areas at least twice per day with a heavy-duty mat cleaner that is designed specifically to eliminate ringworm, bacteria, and any other nastiness that is left behind after our training sessions. But, that isn't enough as there are steps that YOU the martial arts student will need to take to keep us all so fresh and so clean, clean.

  1. The first step is an easy one; always wear clean equipment. Seems pretty basic, but some people choose to subject their teammates to stinky and contaminted gi's, rashguards, and gloves. Typically this is done out of ignorance or selfishness (someone really wants to train Jiu Jitsu but realizes they don't have a clean gi, so they just wear the funky one they trained in the day before 🤢). Please....don't ever do that. It's not only unsanitary but also very offensive to your teammates nasal passages.

2. Clean your equipment and uniforms after using them. This ties directly into step 1. For boxing gloves and Muay Thai shinguards, spraying them down with disinfectant spray immediately after use will go a long way towards keeping your gear sanitary and smelling nice. For Jiu Jitsu gi's, rash guards, shorts, and spats, they need to be washed after every single training session, even if you trained light and didn't work up a sweat. Most people wash their gear to prevent them from stinking (which we really appreciate), but this is also done to kill any fungus or bacteria that have attached themselves to your clothes. In addition to using soap/laundry detergent, adding some Oxi-Clean and white vinegar to your wash cycle will go a long way towards keeping your gear fresh, clean, and disease-free. On top of that, this will help your gi's to last longer, giving you more bang for your buck.

3. Bathe/Shower immediately after your training session. We gotta tell ya, we find it kind of gross when we wrap up a tough session of Jiu Jitsu and we see someone remove their sweaty gi and put on their nice clothes before heading straight to work/home. That's just funky. Not only do you probably smell offensive, but you had very close contact with your teammates (who are probably sweaty) and our mats. As much effort as we put into keeping our mats and training equipment clean, you still need to shower after you wrap up. Doctors recommend that you do this within 30-60 minutes after you conclude training in order to maximize your odds of killing any funk that you may have picked up from someone else. When you shower, you'll definitely want to use soap (we hope you already knew that 😂) but more specifically you should make it a point to use an anti-fungal soap like Defense or Armbar. These soaps are made specifically for grappling athletes to help eliminate those gross fungi and bacteria strains that like to spread during our training times. It's a very sound investment.

If you happen to contract ringworm or staph infection we've got the cure for you.

How Straight Blast Gym Buford Martial Arts Coach Phil Gentry treats ringworm

If you train in martial arts long enough, there's a good chance that you'll contract ringworm. Much like poison ivy or poison oak, some people are more susceptible to it than others. If you notice that you have contracted the big worm, here's what Coach Phil wants you to do:

"Ringworm thrives with moisture, which means when you get all sweaty during training you become a breeding ground for the worm to spread. The first thing you need to do is stop sweating, which means stop training...from everything. Weight lifting, running, martial arts....take a few days off from all of it."

This is the part that is hardest for martial arts athletes because we know you guys and girls want to train, but in order to protect yourself AND YOUR TEAMMATES, you'll need to take a few days off to treat this thing. Coach Phil continues:

"After you stop sweating/training, you need to start drying that ringworm out. First, get some antibacterial soap. I prefer Dial because it dries my skin out, and the more I can dry this thing out the faster it'll go away. Second, get yourself Lotrimin Ultra, NOT Loatrimin Ringworm. The Ultra has a special ingredient that will kill that ringworm pretty quickly...BUT, only if you are dilligent with it. After you wash the contaminated area, apply the Lotrimin Ultra 8 times per day. Yea, it's a lot but if you want to get rid of this thing quickly you have to be on top of it. DO NOT try and use bleach to kill ringworm. All you're to do is ruin your skin, possibly forever."

What to do if you have Staph Infection

This one is pretty straightforward; don't pick at it and go see a doctor. Staph can really mess you up if it goes untreated, and while it might go away on its own you really need to get some anti-biotics to give yourself a speedy and safe recovery. Don't risk your health; see a doctor.

Jim Sheppard is one of the co-owners of Straight Blast Gym Buford and Straight Blast Gym Atlanta. He has been training / coaching / competing in Muay Thai since 2013 and holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
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