BJJ and skin infections: Prevent, recognize and recover

An annoying occurance within contact sports are skin infections. Most infections are caused by bacteria (impetigo, cellulitis) or fungi (ringworm, athlete’s foot).

In this blog, you’ll learn how to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Additionally, we’ll teach you to recognize the most common infections and provide some tips to get back on the mat as soon as possible.



We’ll have to say it, as cliché as it sounds: prevention is better than cure. With the right precautions, you can prevent yourself or your training partners from getting an infection.

1. Keep Nails Short:
Make sure your nails are clean and trimmed before each training session. Long nails can lead to cuts that are susceptible to infections.

2. Clean Outfit Every Training:
A house rule at Haven BJJ, but unfortunately not at every BJJ school. Make sure you wear a clean outfit for every training session.

3. Bare Feet on the Mat, Slippers Off the Mat:
Always wear slippers when stepping off the mat. This prevents you from picking up bacteria and fungi from the ground and then sharing them with your training partners.

4. Cover as Much of Your Body as Possible:
A long-sleeved rashguard and spats (leggings) under your shorts help reduce skin-to-skin contact.

5. Shower as Soon as Possible After Training:
Preferably with a soap containing tea tree oil. At Haven BJJ, we sell Defense Soap at the front desk. Dry yourself well after showering. Especially between the toes and behind the ears. Fungi love moisture.


There are many different infections that can affect your skin. These are the three most common ones in BJJ and grappling:

Ringworm starts as a small red circle but can grow larger over time. Ringworm is itchy and highly contagious. The good news is that it’s often treatable with an over-the-counter cream. For a stubborn infection, you can also get pills to treat the fungus.

More information: Thuisarts – Ringworm

Impetigo often occurs on your face, head, or neck. It consists of small blisters filled with fluid that are highly contagious. Impetigo is usually caused by the staphylococcus bacteria entering a wound. A cream or a course of antibiotics usually resolves impetigo within 10 days.

More information: Thuisarts – Impetigo

While impetigo and ringworm primarily itch, staph can be very painful. It starts as something resembling a pimple but can quickly become a large, painful lump. Sometimes a cream helps, but usually, you’ll need a course of antibiotics. Make sure to act promptly to prevent most of the pain. Staph is also caused by staphylococcus bacteria.

More information: Thuisarts – Staph



Stop training as soon as you notice anything strange on your skin. You can send a photo to one of the coaches for advice if needed. Try to make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible to get the right medication. Depending on the type of infection and severity, this may be a cream or a course of pills. Don’t return to training until you’re no longer contagious.

During treatment, here are some other tips to prevent reinfection: Use a clean towel every day, keep yourself clean, and cover the affected areas when possible. If you’re on an antibiotic course, it’s advisable to take probiotics as well, such as Kefir or buttermilk.

What do you do with all this extra free time now that you can’t train?
You can find out in this blog about dealing with injuries!


While skin infections can be very annoying for BJJ practitioners, they can be effectively managed with the right preventive measures and prompt action when symptoms arise. By remaining aware of the risks and taking proactive measures, you can enjoy healthy and productive training sessions without the fear of infections.


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