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Dealing With Ringworm

Dealing With Ringworm


One of the most difficult things to deal with once you have started training and fallen in love with the process is making the tough decision when you need to stay off the mats, and when you need to stay away in general.  Wait, what? Why are we talking about not training? Everything you’ve read thus far is talking about training even on the days you don’t want to.

While you should absolutely be training as much as you can, there may come a time where you need to make a difficult choice to skip class or even stay away from the academy completely.  Once you find “your” academy it quickly becomes like a second family. You build relationships with the people you train with and likely become very good friends. It is easy to fall in love with training and being around people that are supporting your goals and pushing you to be better each day.  The problem here is when we get too selfish about our training. Let’s face it, sometimes you may catch a cold, and sometimes, it may be something a little worse than a common cold.

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First and foremost, always check with your professor or instructor to see if they are ok with you coming to class.  The chances are good that if you just have a basic common cold you can still train, just please be respectful of your training partner.  No one enjoys having someone’s runny nose wiped on their Gi or having someone cough in their face. As a general rule of thumb, if you would call off work or school, it’s probably not a good idea to go train.  If you go to the doctor, it is a good idea to ask how long you are contagious for so you can better determine when it is safe for you to return to training. In addition to all of this, sometimes, not often, but sometimes the body just needs rest to heal properly.  Pushing yourself at Jiu Jitsu class may cause more harm than good in some situations.

Depending on the situation, it may be acceptable for you to go to class and just observe.  Maybe you can’t get your sneezing under control just yet, but still want to go to class, this is a good opportunity to use your Jiu Jitsu journal and document what techniques are being taught that day.  Writing out a technique in a way that you can remember it, and ultimately do the technique form reading your notes is a powerful learning method.

There may come a time where the sickness is a little worse, and likely more contagious than just a common cold.  This is where it requires you to be a selfless and think about the others at the academy. While we all want to see you on the mats with us, we also don’t want to wipe out half the class attendance because everyone caught the flu.  You know how sick you are, use your best judgement in determining if it is appropriate for you to attend class or not. When in doubt, check with the instructor before heading into the academy.

While it’s not very common, it’s possible however that there may come a time where you contract a skin fungus that can spread quickly and easily with skin to skin or skin to mat contact.  Ringworm is a fairly common skin fungus in the grappling sports and can be extremely frustrating to deal with.

First, let’s talk about prevention.  The best things you can do to prevent getting ringworm are making sure the mats you are training on are clean.  If the mats at your academy aren’t being cleaned on a regular basis, you may want to step up and offer to clean them a few days a week, for everyone’s benefit.  Clean mats is a fundamental way to prevent contracting, and spreading of ringworm.

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Secondly, you must shower within three hours of training.  Simply showing with your favorite brand of body wash may not be enough though.  You need to shower with something that is antifungal, arm bar soap company and defense soap make soaps specifically for grapplers and are prefect for preventing things like ringworm.  

Finally, remember to wash your training gear as soon as possible after training.  The longer it sits, the longer fungus has to grow and cause problems for you. When possible, wash your training gear immediately after training.  

Should you be unlucky enough to contract ringworm, how do you handle it?  First of all, this can not be stressed enough. If you see something you even think may be close to ringworm, you need to stay off the mats and treat the area until it goes away.  If you want to confirm your assumed diagnosis, you can check with your family doctor, they can likely tell quickly if you are dealing with ringworm, or a normal skin irritation.

You can treat ringworm by purchasing over the counter anti fungal cream, or by going to the doctor to get prescription strength anti fungal cream.  Either way, whichever option you choose, you need to stay off the mats until the spot or spots are completely gone. In my opinion it’s important to stay away all together.  Ringworm can spread very easily and could wipe out an entire academy for weeks if you aren’t careful.

Here are some tips for dealing with ringworm and how to make it go away as quickly as possible and keep it from spreading.

Showering twice a day with an anti fungal soap will be crucial in killing the fungus while making sure it isn’t spreading to other areas of your body.  It’s important to use a new washcloth each time you shower so that you aren’t transferring the ringworm back to other areas of your body by using the same washcloth.  In addition, as you might imagine, it’s important to also use a new towel each time when you get out of the shower.

Shaving can be an easy way to spread ringworm.  Invest in a big package of disposable razors and use them only one time until the ringworm is no longer visible.  This is a common mistake and can add weeks if not months to your recovery process.

It’s important to note, ringworm can take 7-10 to show up.  I’d recommend making sure you have been free of any concerning or questionable spots for at least this long before returning to the mats.  

If you are doing all of these things and still can’t seem to get rid of the fungus, it may be necessary to go see a doctor.  In chronic cases they may need to prescribe an anti fungal pill for you to take in conjunction with the creams and showers etc. in order to fully get rid of the fungus.  

At the end of the day, be respectful to your training partners, your professor and your academy and when dealing with ringworm, or any other highly contagious situation that has the ability to spread so easily.  Make it a priority to shower within 3 hours of training with a good anti fungal soap, and wash your training gear as soon as possible after training and you should not have anything to worry about.


Take care of your partners and YOURSELF! Arm Bar Soap gives you the ability to fight back, and is used by grapplers around the globe!


Want to learn more about BJJ related injuries and health care? Then checkout other articles:

Finger taping BJJ
BJJ ankle injury
BJJ skin infections
BJJ lower back pain


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