Can You Get Herpes From BJJ Practices?

Can You Get Herpes From BJJ Practices?

1. BJJ Skin Infections

Grappling martial arts involve constant skin to skin contact and there is a high risk of getting skin infections. In the 21st century, athletic health is one of the greatest concerns for grappling sports managers. Lack of awareness and carelessness towards skin infections are the major causes of spreading skin disease in BJJ practitioners.

BJJ athletes are prone to various types of viral and bacterial skin infections which include ringworm, staph/MRSA, herpes, impetigo, etc.

Let's talk about Herpes and its impact on the performance of the BJJ athletes and what are the effective precautionary measures against contagious skin infections.

2. What is Herpes?

What is Herpes?
Photo credit: @drvaidji

Herpes is a viral infection also known as HSV  Herpes Simplex Virus) which spreads from skin to skin contact. It causes soreness in and around the infected area. Herpes is annoying and painful and is usually associated with unprotected sex. Although, its infection does not incur serious health problems.

Herpes Gladiatorum is commonly caused in wrestlers and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu athletes during grappling and striking. It causes skin lesions on various parts of the body but is often ignored by athletes. These lesions have various stages of development and progression like maculopapular, vesicular, and pustular. Herpes occurs mostly on the face, chest, shoulders, back, and upper extremities. This infection stays longer in the blood.

2.1. Cause of Herpes In BJJ

As you know, infection of herpes spreads via skin contact. But sharing infected items like cell-phone, brush, utensils, and beverage containers cause the spread of the virus. With herpes virus, you may experience the following conditions.

  • Mild illness to serious health problems
  • Fatigue
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Weak immune system

2.2. Types of Herpes

There are two types of herpes.

Herpes Simplex Virus Type I (HSY I)

Herpes Simplex Virus Type I (HSY I)
Photo credit: @diseaeseshows

Herpes Simplex Virus type I is also known as the “mat virus.” HSY I often causes oral herpes resulting in cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth. The symptoms of oral herpes are mostly found in children.

Herpes Simplex Virus Type II

Herpes simplex virus type II is also known as genital herpes. The germs of oral herpes transfer to the genital parts of the body causing genital herpes. The other infected areas are the anus, buttocks, and inner thighs. Mostly genital herpes spread through:

  • Infected skin
  • The saliva of the partner
  • Genital fluid

If genital herpes is left untreated, it may cause severe painful sores. The condition is worse in people with suppressed immune systems. When you have a weak immune system your body cannot fight off the invaders very well. Carelessness can result in serious repercussions and endanger your health.

If you touch your sores or fluid from the sores, it may transfer to other parts of your body. Wash your hands immediately after touching the infectious area.

Oral herpes and genital herpes are asymptomatic but can cause painful blisters, rashes or ulcers in and around the infected area.

Athletes suffering from HSV II increase the risk of transferring HIV infection. These infections are common in professional athletes, wrestlers, and grapplers.

2.3. Treatment of Herpes in BJJ

Warm baths can relieve herpes pain, Antiviral viral drugs like Famvir, Zovirax, and Valtrex are recommended by the medical practitioner for the treatment of herpes. Always seek a professional opinion before applying any remedy.

2.4. How to Prevent Herpes In BJJ

To prevent herpes in BJJ, take care of your hygiene. The best practice is to:

  • Take a hot water bath after BJJ workouts
  • Use your own disinfectant towels and GI’s
  • Never share your personal items
  • Avoid touching, pricking, and squeezing your sores
  • Make sure your training gears and BJJ mats are clean
  • Wash your Gis frequently

2.5. Jiu-Jitsu Scabies

Scabies is a contagious disease spread due to long skin contact with an infected person. Other causes include a weak immune system.

2.6. MMA Fighter Joel Bauman Admits Herpes

Joel Bauman after winning a match revealed in a post-fight interview that he is suffering from herpes. He further shared that herpes was the reason for the loss in his last two matches.

Avoid rolling and sparring when you are suffering from herpes. Do not choose to fight while having any contagious disease. As Bauman did:

“Last fight, I was tired. I was exhausted. I’m about to launch this NFT that’s going to change the fight game. And I put in 30 all-nighters before that fight. I had herpes before that fight. Two outbreaks in the span of a week. I’m here, I’m healthy. Let’s go, whatever. It doesn’t matter. I’ll fight.”

2.7. Paul Bradley Knocked Out by Herpes

Paul Bradley was ousted from “TUF” due to herpes. He was suffering from HSV I on his neck. Paul shared about herpes with his coach with a smile on his face but he was shocked when Paul was kicked out of the tournament due to herpes. He thought it is a common thing and in the past coaches didn't take any action on it.

2.8. How to Stay Germ-Free at the Gym?

How to Stay Germ-Free at the Gym?
Photo credit: @psychologytoday

Gyms and training areas are mostly considered public places and practitioners are required to pay extra precautionary measures for their health. Herpes is a highly contagious disease when the sores are open and wet. Herpes fluid may transfer to anyone that comes in touch. It lives in your body without letting you know for years.

To protect your body from the various skin diseases and infections take the following preventive measures:

  • Disinfect surfaces with antibacterial wipes and sprays
  • Avoid touching water bottle caps. ( Use a water bottle with a push top )
  • Protect your feet. Wear flip-flops
  • Sanitize your smartphone
  • Take a steam bath after training

3. Conclusion

Health is essential for all human beings but when it comes to those sports which only thrive on your physical health or performance, it becomes a prerequisite to maintaining a healthy athletic body. Just like other sports BJJ practices also required a vigilantly supervised cautious routine. Involves the hygiene of your tools, mat area, the health of the sparring partner, and your own sense of greater responsibility. Covid 19 has taught us all the required precautionary measures to cope with an infection.  BJJ practitioners should choose to remain cautious by choice and always follow precautionary measures.  Because this might be one of the lessons of the Pandemic:

“precautionary measures are our biggest weapon against contagious diseases”.

Skin infections in BJJ athletes and wrestlers have become a serious problem. The need is to maintain your personal and environmental hygiene. BJJ mats, Gi’s, and training accessories should be properly disinfected to stop the breakthrough of viral and bacterial infections.

Photo credit: @teamcorral

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