Whether you’re competing or training on the mats, it’s important that you be mindful of your fellow BJJ athletes and not just yourself.
As such, if you have a contagious health risk like ringworm, it might be wise to first get a full check-up first.
The sport is all about dominating your opponent in grappling with techniques and strength. However, that doesn’t mean you’re no longer responsible for anything else that happens to their body.
For the record, MMAWhisperer encourages you to not train BJJ with ringworm for the sake of both your training partners and your own health and comfort, and we are going to tell you exactly why.
In this ringworm in BJJ breakdown, we cover the following:
- Definition and identification of ringworm
- Common treatments for ringworm
- Why you shouldn’t train BJJ with ringworm
Table of Contents
What Is Ringworm?
Ringworm is a skin infection that’s caused by a fungus commonly found in Jiu-Jitsu gyms.
Don’t let the name fool you. Ringworm isn’t caused by worms.
It got that name because of the circular rash that it leaves on your body. It’s red, itchy, and it’s highly contagious as well.
The fungi that cause ringworm can live on skin, surfaces such as BJJ mats, and even on your Gi or rashguards.
As such, it’s a highly contagious disease that anyone can get without much warning.
Ringworm can be highly contagious inside a martial arts gym, particularly in a BJJ gym.
People come and go, having their bodies exposed on the mats and the skin of other players. One case of ringworm inside the gym and you could be looking at a contagious problem already.
Ringworm thrives on damp, dark surfaces such as BJJ mats, Gis, and rashguards
Ringworm is far less of a threat than serious injuries such as brain damage in BJJ, and it’s less disfiguring than getting cauliflower ear from BJJ, however, it’s very irritating.
Ringworm can spread very easily when training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
It’s recommended that if you have ringworm, avoid direct contact with any person as it can pass on to them easily.
The symptoms of ringworm will vary depending on where you’re infected. It can develop on any part of your body, including your fingernails and toenails. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Ring-shaped rash
- Dry, red, cracked, and scaly skin
- Hair loss
The symptoms can appear around 4 to 14 days after your skin comes into contact with the initial fungus.
If any of these symptoms start to appear on your body, consult with a healthcare professional ASAP. They’ll most likely take a small skin sample and have it undergo testing.
That being said, in terms of truly threatening your health, I would worry more about the fact that BJJ can be bad for your joints.
Ringworm sucks, but it Is not the biggest risk in BJJ
I’m guessing that risk hasn’t stopped you from training BJJ if you are on MMAWhisperer, so neither should the risk of ringworm.
Although whether you should train BJJ with ringworm is another story.
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Can I Train BJJ With Ringworm?
Technically, you can train BJJ with ringworm. There are no rules in BJJ that talk about skin diseases directly.
However, you should think about what would happen to your fellow athletes.
Ringworms can spread fast. If you spread it to one person, that person can go on and spread it to others and so on.
You could quickly be looking at a ringworm outbreak in your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy.
Also, while it may not be one of the official tips and tricks for Jiu-Jitsu, I recommend avoiding the reputation as the “ringworm guy/gal” at your gym when you cause an outbreak from training Jiu-Jitu with ringworm.
While you can do so technically, it’s not recommended to train or compete in BJJ while you have ringworm.
Some BJJ athletes will argue that they can train or compete while covering up the fungi.
However, the ringworm fungi can last long on your skin and even on clothing. Even if it’s completely patched up, you can still spread ringworm pretty fast.
It’s also worth noting that ringworm thrives in moist and wet environments. If you get sweaty in training, the ringworm can become much worse.
Training or competing BJJ with ringworm can be a very uncomfortable experience. You’ll be itching all over!
Plus, the rough texture of the gi can irritate the rash further and cause burns that are very painful.
Ringworm infected skin rubbing against a Jiu-Jitsu Gi is very unpleasant
It can take up to a month to treat ringworm. Even after you no longer have rashes, you should wait for a week before heading back to BJJ.
This guarantees the safety of your fellow athletes from getting ringworm themselves.
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How To Treat Ringworm
We know you’re most likely longing to get back on the mat. However, you’ll need to be patient.
Treating ringworm isn’t that difficult either through over-the-counter antifungal or prescription antifungal cream.
These creams will be used in a span of 2 weeks up to a month.
Some of the antifungal creams you might be prescribed include clotrimazole, miconazole, terbinafine, ketoconazole, and more. The type of cream you’ll get will depend on where your ringworm is and on whether you have allergies with certain ingredients.
You can start to do BJJ after just a few days once the treatment starts working.
Follow these tips to ensure the fastest recovery from ringworm:
- Take Creams as Prescribed
- Keep Area Clean and Dry
- Stay Connected with Your Doctor
If you’re taking your creams properly but the rashes become worse, it’s important that you contact your doctor as soon as you can.
If you want to be completely sure that your teammates and competitors are safe, it would be a clever idea to take a skin test after treatment as well.
How to Prevent Ringworm in BJJ
Whether it’s strengthening your joints through calisthenics for BJJ, taking a preventative grip to avoid getting choked, or showering with hot water and soap ASAP after class, prevention is everything in BJJ.
The most tried and true method of preventing ringworm is showering fully with soap immediately after training BJJ.
Furthermore, you must wash your Gi and spats immediately and keep your training gear clean.
BJJ And Skin Diseases in General
BJJ and MMA are both contact sports with a lot of direct contact.
It’s very important that you avoid training if you have any infectious skin diseases like ringworm, staph, and others.
Even if the disease is minor, it’s best to stay off the mat until it clears up.
Also, prevention is key, so be sure to take a shower after every time you train! Another thing you should avoid is training or competing with an open wound. Keep in mind that infections are possible in BJJ.
Open wound infection can lead to staph which is far worse than ringworm. Aside from being harder to treat, staph infections will lay you off for a considerable amount of time.
Can I Train BJJ with Ringworm? – Final Word
Just because ringworm isn’t deadly, doesn’t mean you should carelessly spread it around.
Bottom line — do NOT train BJJ while you have ringworm or are still fresh from recovering from it. It’s something that can affect those around you very badly.
How angry would you be if you got a contagious disease from someone who doesn’t know when to stay off the mat while they’re sick?