I know I just did a post about hygiene, but I’m going to do another one anyway. Skin infections are a valid concern for jiu jitsu fighers, wrestlers, and anyone who rubs up against another athlete on a regular basis. To combat these, the best approach is to go old school.
The skin is the largest organ, and along with the hair on its surface, it is your system’s only defense against the world waiting to assault it. A few simple things will help you help it along.
Support your bacterial flora. Yep, that’s right. A few billion bacteria keep your body ticking along as it should, both inside and out. These good bacteria are key to fending off the pesky bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi trying to mess up your world. They not only function to directly improve your body’s cellular defenses, they also are direct combatants. You can show them some love by not using antibacterial soaps that use alcohols or other lab produced chemicals, by taking a probiotic supplement regularly, by avoiding antibiotics except when they are absolutely necessary, and by eating well. Harsh antibacterial soaps and antibiotics are non-discrimatory and will kill the good bacteria with the bad. Also, the antibacterial soaps are not antifungal, so using them will not address the real risk of fungal skin infections. Taking a probiotic supplement and/or eating fermented foods regularly will help replenish your good gut bacteria, so they can boost your immune system thus allowing it to fight off all manner of nastiness with greater ease. Eating well is important for a bajillion reasons, but here it applies because the more varied your fiber intake, the healthier your gut biome will be. The different types of bacteria thrive from different types of fiber. Variety is good. Oh, and sugar? Yeah, the bad bacteria like it. Curb your intake to discourage the bad guys from growing. (The bacteria in your gut are truly amazing, and medicine is slowly beginning to understand that they are key to mental health, immune health, and so much more!)
Okay, you’ve eaten your kimchi and banished the antibacterial dial from the shower. What next? Remember my recommendation to wash that gi and belt regularly and shower before and after class? That. Occasionally throw a cup of vinegar in the wash, too. It’s an antifungal. Consider adding Defense soap into your routine as well. It has tea tree oil and
eucalyptus. The tea tree oil has both antifungal and antibacterial properties though the research is limited (I’ll save you my conspiracy theorist leanings here). Granted, Defense doesn’t smell the greatest, but it works well. What limited studies there are even indicate that it is effective against Methicillin Resistant Staphyloccoccus Aureus (MRSA, also known as “staph”). If you follow the link, you’ll see these simple bars of soap are a little pricey, but I’ve found that buying it in the five pack from Amazon isn’t too bad. I only use it surrounding jiu jitsu class, so I don’t finish a bar as quickly as a regular bar of soap. It comes in a liquid and a container of wipes, too, if you’re interested in that. I have super sensitive skin, and so far it hasn’t caused me to have a reaction, in case you were wondering about that.
If all of your valiant efforts fail, and you find yourself with a big, disproportionately painful pimple, please don’t come to class. Any drainage from that is super contagious, and your buddies don’t want your funk.