So we all know that possible trading of germs comes with the territory of doing a sport where we are in very close contact the WHOLE time. But some people don’t know what exactly they are. So this post is going to be all about those lovely little infections you can get on your body by competing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA, and whatever other martial arts on these mats. The types of skin infections can be separated into bacterial, viral, and fungal. I’m going to try and hit on the most common ones, that way if you do get one, you can get it checked out and know how to get it taken care of.
* Writers note, there will be labeled pictures of the infections… I’m warning you now. So please don’t be mad at me!
Normal bacterial infections found in grapplers, mma, etc. are impetigo, staph, folliculitis, cellulitis, and probably the most dangerous, MRSA. Guys these are bacterial, most can be taken care of easily, and prevented easily.Take a shower after every training, use clean gear, clean towels, if someone has a weird looking mark, ask them to get it checked out. It’s not just their health its yours. You don’t want to end up unable to train or compete because you let a bacterial infection get too bad. Impetigo, staph, folliculitis, and cellulitis, can all be taken care of in the early stages by topical ointment. If it gets a little more advanced then an oral medication may need to be used. If it gets really bad, possible surgery to drain the area, and if you let it go too long, gangrene can set in. So don’t let is get that far.
MRSA on the other hand is more serious, it’s a Methicilin Resistant Staph. Basically with this strain what has happened is because of the overuse of antibiotics, MRSA doesn’t respond to the normal stuff, you have to use very strong, antibiotics, and have the area surgically drained. MRSA is also highly contagious, and depending on how bad your case is, you may get quarantined for a few days. I actually do know more than one person who has gotten MRSA and ended up in the infectious disease ward at the hospital. MRSA is serious guys,there are a lot of complications that can happen from it, and MRSA can be fatal if ignored. MRSA looks like a boil, an infected hair, pimple, spider bite but it wont pop, and they become very painful abscesses. The main noticeable thing is how painful it can be. Just keep in mind that is a bacterial infection isn’t getting better, get it checked out!
So fungal is probably the smallest group, there are one of two things you can get and they are related. Ringworm, and tinea versicolor. Ringworm’s name changes with the location but athlete’s foot, ‘jock itch’ it’s all ringworm. Ring worm looks exactly like it sounds, its a pink itchy ring on your skin. The tinea versicolor looks like a white rash, sometimes with small bumps. It’s usually not noticeable until the person gets someone and there are lighter color blotches on the infected area. Both are easily transmitted, so competing or training really aren’t options until you have been doing treatment for three days. Most ringworm on the feet and body can be taken care of with anti fungal sprays. If it does not respond or the area is big, you may need a prescription strength ointment, or even a prescription oral medication may be required. There are other ‘home remedies’ to kill ringworm, fast, but most do more harm to your skin than good. Use the stuff that is made to kill the fungus. After you have started on treatment cover the area with a CLEAN bandage or wrap until it is completely gone. Ring worm outbreaks at a gym take a little bit to get over with. So do your part to help contain it!
The main viral infection grapplers and mixed martial artists need to worry about is a version of the herpes simplex virus. It’s actually been given it’s own name, herpes gladitorum. Herpes Gladitorum, is like the cold sores you can get around your mouth, except it can be found on pretty much any part of your body. With that being said while an athlete has an outbreak they should not be training. It can spread on their skin, and to other people much easier. All that has to happen is skin to skin contact. There are antiviral treatments that can help speed up the recovery and return the person back to practice but while they have any form of sore, they can’t be training.
Plantar warts (verruca) are another virus that can be spread. The easiest thing to do is if they are small try the OTC wart remover kits. If they are bigger go to a doctor so they can freeze or burn the wart off. If you let warts be they can multiply, and it ends up becoming painful.
Those were the most common skin infections grapplers and mixed martial artists get. There are some really easy things out there to prevent getting these infections. First off make sure you’re always wearing clean gear, that way nothing gross can grow and multiply on your stuff. Second, take a shower after EVERY practice, if you practice in the morning and night shower after both. Along with showering, get a bottle of Selsen blue, and once a week use it as body wash, or there is even a specific soap called Defense Soap that has been marketed towards the Martial Arts community, it can be found on some of the online MMA stores. It’s a great way to kill anything extra on your skin and prevent things like ringworm. Finally probably the only thing you can’t control is how often the mats and gym gear is cleaned. That is up to the gym manager or coach. But possibly offering to help clean the mats will make sure it’s done more often. Hope everyone found this a little informative. And sorry if any of the pictures grossed you out!