By Gabriella McCrossan

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As you already know, Jiu Jitsu is a very close contact sport. While we all love it, it does increase the risk of getting certain types of infections. The same general rules apply to everything: be hygienic, don’t train when you’re sick, and get any potential infection treated right away. Here are some of the most common infections spread during Jiu Jitsu and how to avoid them.

Athlete’s foot: Athlete’s foot is caused by fungus similar to ringworm. You can get it if you walk barefoot where the fungus is present, which is A LOT of places. It gets tracked around on shoes and on the feet of people who have the fungus. It can infect your skin and make your skin scaly and itchy, and it can infect your toenails. Prevention: Wear shoes whenever you step off the mats at the gym. Wash your feet thoroughly when you shower after training, and make sure you clean your shower regularly. Don’t share shoes and try not to let your feet stay in wet or sweaty socks for too long.

Ringworm: Ringworm is a fungal infection in the top layer of your skin. It looks like a red, circular rash. The skin may be clear in the middle, and it might not be quite circular. It could be wavy or irregular around the edges. You’re most likely to get this from someone else who has ringworm (even if it’s covered). Prevention: Change out of sweaty clothes right away after training and shower immediately. Wash your gi after every training session, and don’t train with someone if they have ringworm!

Staph: As the name implies, it is caused by the staphylococcus aureus bacteria. It can infect the body in a number of different ways, but for Jiu Jitsu it’s mainly concerning as a skin infection. It can show up in a number of different ways, each one nastier than the last from small boils to full blown cellulitis. Prevention: Keep all wounds clean and covered. Wash your gi, including your belt after every training session. Shower as soon as possible after training. Wear shoes when you step off the mat. Wash your hands. Wash your towels more often than you think you should and don’t share them with others.

When it comes to good hygiene it ultimately boils down to keeping yourself and your surroundings clean and being diligent about making sure you aren’t showing any symptoms of any infections. It goes without saying that you should avoid contact with anyone who has one of these infections. If you have anything new or different going on with your skin, get it checked out, get it treated and do not wait until it becomes a bigger issue. You can’t control everything, but you can help reduce the likelihood of getting a skin infection and missing out on mat time. Maintaining good hygiene is not only important for your own personal health but also for the health of your training partners. Without them we can’t practice the martial art we all love, so we must treat them with the same amount of respect with which we treat ourselves. If you have one of these infections, DON’T TRAIN until it has cleared up. Your training partners will thank you! What are your best tips for maintaining good hygiene in Jiu Jitsu? Let us know in the comments!