BJJ Staph Infection: Everything You Need To Know

BJJ Staph Infection: Everything You Need To Know

1. What is BJJ Staph Infection?

Staph Infections are not common in BJJ practitioners but they should be taken seriously. The word “Staph” is derived from the term Staphylococcus. It is a group of bacteria that infect human skin and cause infections. The bacterium usually targets the skin of the human and penetrates deeper. It appears as a little pimple or skin bump that turns into a puss-filling area.

2. Which Bacteria is Responsible for BJJ Staph Infection?

As evident by the name, Staph is caused by the bacterium “Staphylococcus”. It is a complete genus of bacteria. Most of the members of this genus are involved in causing skin infections. But one member of this genus that is involved in most Staph cases is Staphylococcus aureus.

S. aureus is also known as MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). Methicillin resistance represented the resistance in the bacterium against a group of antibiotics.

These types of bacteria thrive on human skin. Almost everybody around us contains that bacteria on their skin. But not everybody gets that infection because of the protective epidermis on the skin.

If the bacteria penetrate the protective skin layer and get deeper, this can cause skin infection. In most cases, the bacterium gets away without giving any harm.

“People with minor cuts on the skin or with decreased immunity are more vulnerable to bacterial infections like staph.”

3. Are BJJ Practitioners More Vulnerable to Staph Infections?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a close-contact grappling combat sport specifically in No-Gi BJJ. During BJJ training and competitions, small scratches and sweat are common. All these circumstances are making it easier to transfer any skin infection from one person to another.

In such exposed conditions, bacteria that are always present in the environment and on the skin get an opportunity to reach and infect the skin of the BJJ competitors. Furthermore, BJJ practitioners can get this infecting bacteria:

  • If they use a dirty and sweaty Gi.
  • If they train on an uncleaned mat.
  • And most frequently, from their infected training partner.

4. Symptoms of BJJ Staph Infection

It is not easy to detect a staph infection because, in the beginning, it looks like a skin bump or a pimple. Various people take it as a common skin infection and allow staph to expand on the skin.

Specifically, when you are unaware of your staph infection and you go to the gym for training, you are risking your hygiene as well as your training partner. Some of the symptoms are given below. If you are a BJJ practitioner and you experience any of these symptoms on your skin, immediately consult your doctor or a dermatologist and pause training.

  1. Rash (might be or might not be itchy)
  2. Redness
  3. Inflammation
  4. Pus
  5. Painful
  6. Warmness in the Infected Area
  7. Can Cause Fever if Left Untreated for a Long Time

5. What are the Treatments for BJJ Staph Infections?

Treatment of the staph infection depends on the type of bacteria and severity of the infection. The first thing after you find any symptoms of staph infection is to consult your doctor. Staph infections are bacterial infections and are mostly treated with antibiotics. But antibiotics are very hard on gastrointestinal functions, so minor staph infections can also be treated with home remedies. In case of severe infections, immediately visit your doctor.

5.1. Home Remedies

Here we have a few home remedies that can be helpful for staph infections at the beginning.

Antibacterial Substances

Some people use a few substances that contain antibacterial properties including oregano essential oil, tea tree oil, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, or eucalyptus essential oil. These substances can be effective in minor infections. In case of severe infection, these substances are not useful.


As S. aureus has developed resistance against various antibiotics, it is proved that honey  is very effective against S. aureus. Manuka honey especially has antibiotic properties. This type of honey is also effective against MRSA.

5.2. Antibiotics

Antibiotics are substances used to kill or stop the growth of bacteria. Various types of antibiotics are available in the market to treat bacterial infections. But unfortunately, S. aureus has the ability to become resistant to various antibiotics.

Penicillin and methicillin are examples of such antibiotics. Antibiotics should be strictly taken according to the perception of the doctor. Here are the names of some antibiotics that are effective for staph infection.

  • Cephalexin (Keflex)
  • Oxacillin (Bactocill)
  • Cefazolin (Ancef)
  • Sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim (Bactrim)
  • Mupirocin (Bactroban)
  • Doxycycline (Doryx)
  • Vancomycin (Vancocin)
  • Clindamycin (Cleocin)
  • Retapamulin (Altabax)
  • Nafcillin (Unipen)
  • Bacitracin (Baciguent)

5.3. MRSA

MRSA is a specific type of staph bacteria that produces resistance against various antibiotics, specifically methicillin. For minor MRSA infections, these antibiotics are still effective.

5.4. Surgery

In case of severe staph infection, which is not supposed to be treated with antibiotics, surgery is necessary. The doctor empties the pus from the wound or any other abscission.

Furthermore, artificial grafts including prosthetics, pacemakers, and heart valves can also be removed if a staph infection is found in them.

5.5. Pause Training

If you are a BJJ athlete, and you are diagnosed with a staph infection, you must stop training immediately. Staph is highly contagious. You can spread staph infection with your sweat to other persons as well as to other parts of your body.

You can transfer Staph to another person during rolling. You can also expose the mat, door handles, or other equipment in the gym to S. aureus. Other members can easily get staph infections if some infected person is rolling with them.

6. Preventive Measures for BJJ Staph Infections

The chances of Staph infection are high if you are a BJJ practitioner and train regularly. This is one of the common skin infections that happens to target the majority of BJJ practitioners.

If you get staph once, you have to follow your physician’s recommendation and also take a break from training. Taking a break from training is not a happy experience for BJJ practitioners. So, if you want to avoid such skin infections during BJJ training, here are some effective preventive measures.

6.1. Must be Aware of the Symptoms of Staph Infection

To prevent staph infection from spreading, you must know the symptoms of staph infection. Once you suspect or come to know about the symptoms of the staph infection, you can stop this infection from prevailing from the very start of the infection.

If you found the symptoms of staph infection, stop training, consult your physician, and also tell your coach and training partners. So that they can examine themselves whether they got the infection or not.

6.2. Keep the Gi and Training Area Clean

The main reason for staph infection is unhygienic conditions. If you are training with a sweaty and dirty Gi, the chances of getting infections substantially increased. To avoid the most common BJJ skin infection, try to keep your clothes clean. Always use clean Gi during training. Regular washing of Gi ensures the hygienic health of your partners and your own self.

6.3. Use Clean Rash Guards Under the Gi

Along with a washed and cleaned Gi, it is also mandatory to keep your rashguards and squats clean. Rash Guards are usually skin fitted and are exposed to sweat.

If you wear unwashed rashguards, there are increased chances for bacterial growth on your skin. Sweaty and dirty rash guards provide optimum conditions for bacteria that are present in your environment every time. S. aureus is also one of them.

6.4. Wash Your Hands & Use Sanitizer

The main course of bacterial transferring is through hands. You touch everything with your hands. Hands can be a medium for bacteria to shift on your skin and to shift from your skin to others. To avoid any staph infection, you should wash your hands after every training session.

6.5. Regularly Cut Your Nails

If you are an active BJJ practitioner, you should avoid long nails. Trimming your nails regularly will keep you and your partners safe from any little cuts and wounds during training. Little cuts and wounds are the main pathways through which S. aureus can enter your skin's protective layer and cause infection.

Furthermore, long nails are also a house for various bacteria. You should not pet S. aureus inside your nail space.

6.6. Feet Must be Clean

Along with hand hygiene, it is also important for BJJ practitioners to clean their feet. Bacteria can enter the skin from any part of the skin and feet are more likely to be exposed to bacteria. Another reason to clean your feet is that during rolling or sparring, your feet can be in contact with the face, neck, hand, or chest of your opponent. Your feet can be a cause of the spread of infection.

6.7. Take a Shower After Each Practice Session

During training or rolling, sweating is a natural process. The sweated body is more vulnerable to staph microbes getting into the skin and causing infection. The gyms in which showers are not available to the practitioners after every training session are more likely to infect their practitioners with staph. Try to use antibiotic soap to make sure of complete relief from the bacterial growth on your skin.

During training, every grappler must have a towel with him. If someone has a staph infection, staph is also in his sweat. Use the towel to avoid dropping sweat on your training partner or on the mat.

6.8. Avoid Training If You Have Staph Infection

Staph is one of those skin infections that are highly contagious. If you observe or suspect any symptoms of Staph Infection, stop training. You don’t want to become the cause of a staph infection for your teammates. Immediately see your doctor and follow his instructions.

6.9. Things for Regular Use Need Replacement

Equipment that is regularly in contact with practitioners in the gym needs regular disinfectant and cleaning. Including mats, vacuum cleaners, mop heads, etc must be replaced after a specific time period.

If the cleaning equipment contains bacteria, it means these bacteria are going to spread everywhere in the gym. Another important thing to ensure a bacterial-free environment is to never compromise on the use of antimicrobial cleaners.

6.10. Encourage Your Teammates to Ensure a Hygienic Environment

Avoiding the stuff that can cause staph by only yourself is not enough. You have to be in contact with the things or your teammates in your gym during training. If your teammates or gym environment do not ensure hygiene, it will be difficult for you to avoid staph infection. To ensure complete safety from the staph, you have to encourage your teammates and your gym staff to implement hygienic strategies in the gym.

7. BJJ Legend Who Suffered from BJJ Staph Infection

Gordon Ryan, the No-Gi king is unable to appear in various competitions for a long time. He shared with his fans that he was suffering from stomach problems and severe nausea.

Ryan’s doctors diagnosed antibiotics used due to staph infection as a root cause of stomach problems. He shared a message with his fans on his Instagram account and told them the reason for not appearing in any tournaments.

8. Some Other Skin Infections

8.1. Ringworm

Ringworm is a type of fungal infection that can affect any part of the body. This usually appears as a circle just raised from the skin surface. This is reddish in appearance and started as an itchy rash just like a staph infection in BJJ practitioners.  

8.2. Herpes

Herpes is a viral infection that is one of the most common infections in BJJ practitioners. Herpes infection appears as red bristles that are present on the skin in the form of clusters. Herpes can be diagnosed as painful reddish bristles on the skin, especially on the head area (can also proceed further on other parts of the body), raised body temperature followed by swollen lymph nodes.

8.3. Impetigo

Impetigo is also a very contagious skin infection. This infection is caused by a bacterial species, S. pyogenes belonging to the genus Staphylococcus. Impetigo is characterized by yellowish itchy lesions on the limbs. These lesions can also be spread further from limbs to other parts of the body. If not treated properly, these lesions can also lead to blisters. S. aureus can also integrate with S. pyogenes to make this infection worse.

9. Conclusion

Staph infection is caused by S. aureus, a bacterial species belonging to the genus of Staphylococcus. This skin infection is highly contagious and can easily transfer from one person to another person. In the gym, BJJ practitioners are highly exposed to this skin infection. BJJ is a combat sport in which practitioners usually get in contact with each other.

During training and rolling, scratches and sweating are very common in BJJ athletes. Sweat can be a medium to transfer staph microbes while scratches provide a path for the bacteria to get into the skin. Furthermore, if you are diagnosed with a staph infection, you must stop training as your sweat will also drop on the mat, and anybody who touches the mat can be exposed to staph easily.

Staph infection can be avoided by some precautionary measures. But if you get a staph infection once, you should fulfill the treatment protocols properly.

Photo Credit: @Quora

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