I spent most of my life relatively acne-free, imagine my surprise when I started getting acne frequently as an adult. I realized that the only major thing that changed was training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. So I decided to look into whether or not BJJ was causing my acne and how I might be able to combat it.
Bacteria and fungi are present on the mats during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training due to the moist environment and the high number of people in contact with it. This leads to increased cases of acne. Adjusting your post-training hygiene and skincare routine can both treat and prevent this acne.
Now that we know that BJJ can lead to increases in acne on your skin, let’s take a look into how we can make adjustments to prevent and treat any acne we might receive from training jiu-jitsu.
How Can Someone Get Acne From BJJ?
BJJ is a sweaty sport with a lot of physical contact with training partners and the mat. This environment is great for bacteria and fungi, so if you spend any significant amount of time on the mat you will end up with a lot of bacteria and fungi that can develop into acne on your skin.
Just as BJJ schools will sanitize their mats to keep their equipment clean, you should take care to keep your skin clean in order to avoid getting skin infections like acne or staph.
Acne is caused by clogged skin cells, sebum (natural oil from your skin), and Propionibacterium acnes or Cutibacterium acnes, a kind of bacterium that can cause acne. Cutibacterium acnes is always on our skin, but it is not contagious and is generally harmless. However, when your pores are clogged by dead skin cells and oil, Cutibacterium acne can thrive, leading to skin irritation and inflammation.
People with pre-existing skin conditions may be more prone to acne. Certain skin problems such as Rosacea or Keratosis Pilaris can create acne-like rashes as well as pimples. Unlike acne, which is not transmittable from one person to another, other skin conditions can be.
Another not so uncommon way that people end up with acne from BJJ is that some people, including myself, tend to crave more sweets and low-quality junk food which can lead to a diet that makes acne and inflammation go up if done to excess.
So if you are having issues with acne after starting BJJ it’s probably worth a moment of self-reflection to determine if changes in your diet might be a factor.
How To Treat Acne From BJJ
Treating acne is a matter of going through a better skincare routine to get rid of acne. If you don’t see results from a standard acne treatment you might need to see a specialist, since the BJJ training environment is not typical and you could have something beyond the scope of a normal routine.
Ultimately, optimizing your post-training hygiene to get rid of bacteria and fungi will give you most of your preventative results.
Consult a Doctor
If you are getting acne from BJJ and cannot manage it through basic skincare changes, seek medical help. There is no complete cure for acne, but you can treat it as soon as it happens to mitigate the issue. If you are having frequent issues with acne and OTC treatments are not working, your primary care doctor or a dermatologist can prescribe medications that can help.
Use Skin Cleansing Products
If your acne is mild or only occurs occasionally, you might consider using typical commercial products first instead of going to the doctor, where the cost can be high.
I like to integrate simple products like the Viking Revolution Facial Scrub that is available on Amazon to keep skincare easy.
If you are having issues with acne on your scalp, pick out something more anti-microbial or anti-fungal even if it is simply a dandruff shampoo like Head and Shoulders that can be found on Amazon and at many other retailers.
Use Natural Remedies
Many people use salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to treat acne effectively, but these options are costly and can cause dryness and skin irritation. Therefore, many people turn to natural remedies to treat acne.
Home Remedies To Remove Acne
You can use household items to treat fungal acne from BJJ. Although these home remedies lack scientific backing, many people use them. 77% of acne patients had used alternative acne treatments.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can treat acne because it can fight all kinds of bacteria and fungi. The vinegar’s organic acids can kill Cutibacterium acnes. The lactic acid in apple cider vinegar can improve the appearance of the scars caused by acne.
- Mix cider vinegar with water to make the solution you will use to clean the skin. Don’t use too much vinegar because it can cause a burning sensation. You want to add more water to the mixture if you have sensitive skin.
- Use a cotton pad to clean the affected skin with the mixture.
- Wait 20 seconds, then rinse and dry the cleaned area.
- Repeat the process as needed.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is another excellent option for treating acne at home. The oil can fight bacteria and reduce acne. Many people prefer tea tree oil to benzoyl peroxide since it is less irritating to the skin and doesn’t make the skin too dry.
You must always dilute one part of tea tree oil with nine parts of water before applying it to your skin. Use a cotton ball to dab the diluted tea tree oil on your acne, and use a moisturizer to ensure your skin doesn’t get too dry. Repeat the process later as needed.
Preventing Fungal Acne from BJJ
Preventing fungal acne from BJJ is all about optimizing your post-training hygiene. The simplest way to prevent fungal acne is by simply showering as soon as you can after practice. Other helpful options are using dandruff shampoos which tend to be anti-fungal.
This will wash away fungus and yeast that are often present on the jiu-jitsu mats that also tend to grow due to the moist training environment that is the mats.
Changing your clothes during long training sessions and changing immediately after patting yourself dry after practice can also reduce the chances of fungal issues.
Choosing moisture-wicking clothing and changing all wet clothes out for fresh clothes can slow down the growth of both bacteria and fungi on your skin until you manage to get to a shower.
Also, while it seems like common sense and I don’t want to mention it, some people share their sweat towels, don’t do that. Also, make sure that you wash all your gear after every single practice.
For a complete guide on how to take care of your BJJ Gi and No-Gi BJJ gear check out my post How To Wash and Dry Your BJJ Gi | The Complete Guide.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a high proximity contact sport like judo and wrestling and with that exposure comes additional risks for skin ailments. Both bacterial and fungal exposure is common and the nature of training creates an environment that encourages transmission as well as the growth of both bacteria and fungi.
These risks necessitate adjustments to your hygiene and skincare routine to prevent irritating issues with both bacterial and fungal acne and other diseases.
Fortunately, there are many options ranging from over-the-counter treatments to natural remedies and prescription medication you would need to receive via prescription from your doctor or dermatologist. So take a smart approach to mitigate your risks and address your breakouts and enjoy your training!
For more check out Can Martial Arts Cause Acne? | Resolving Martial Arts Acne.