MMA is a majorly tactile sport; one that doesn’t just cause you to sweat, but also to come into close proximity with someone else’s skin. Sometimes, however, the biggest risk isn’t your opponent, if not the chance of developing a skin disease while preparing for the next big match. The largest organ in the body, our skin, is also one that can cause irritation, pain, and discomfort, sometimes to the point that it interferes with our progress in MMA. Diseases like ringworm, for instance, can take months to disappear and can even become chronic. Keep ringworm, herpes simplex, and staphylococcus infections far away by following a preventive routine and seeking treatment immediately if symptoms arise.
Ringworm the Most Common Infection for Tactile Sports
Sports such as MMA or wrestling expose fighters to tinea corporis, most commonly known as ringworm. It caused by tiny fungi that are cause ring-shaped patches to appear on skin. Although it can appear anywhere, it favors areas that are warm, dark, and moist, such as between the toes or the groin area. It is passed through direct skin-to-skin contact, but also by using infected items (such as a hairbrush or towel) and touching contaminated surfaces. Ringworm doesn’t always itch so if you notice a rash on your body, visit your doctor since early treatment (in this case comprising topical ointments and/or oral medication) is key. At the gym, don’t share towels and other items, and wipe down gym mats and equipment before using them. Be particularly careful in the shower, using footwear to avoid contracting ringworm from shower floors.
Tanning Beds and Infrared Saunas
Some fighters hit the tanning salon before an important match, but they should be aware that using tanning beds regularly before the age of 35 can increase their risk of melanoma by 75%. Tanning beds are actually more dangerous than tanning in the sun, because of the unwavering intensity of the UV radiation they emit. Instead of a tanning bed, considering enjoying an infrared sauna, which won’t give you a golden glow, but will help your body release toxins by raising your temperature slightly. Infrared saunas are known to improve heart function and lessen chronic pain, but they are also great when it comes to strengthening your skin by increasing collagen and elastin (the basic building blocks of skin). Visiting a well reputed sauna is recommended, since there are online products that don’t deliver positive results. Cheaper products won’t actually raise your temperature at all, thus negating the beneficial effects of light-based treatments.
Staph Infections, Herpes Simplex and Impetigo
Gyms (free weights, mats, etc.), locker rooms and bathrooms (anywhere were sweat can settle) are breeding grounds for staph. MRSA, which shows up as a red bump, pimple, or boil, is a particularly resistant type of staph that is easy to spread. Once again, make sure to wipe down surfaces. Avoid bringing your gym bag into your home without wiping it down with antibacterial wipes, since you could be introducing germs to others in your family. Herpes simplex, a virus which can result in blisters, can also be spread by sharing items, as can impetigo (which results in a blister or crust that is usually treated topically).
This condition can be caused by MMA fighters wearing tight clothing. Sweat causes increased sebum production in pores, which then produce pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads. If you shave, do so after rather than before your workout, to avoid pores becoming clogged with sweat. Invest in good workout clothing that wicks moisture away rather than retaining it. Finally, when you shower, exfoliate skin with a gentle product and don’t forget to moisturize afterwards, using a water-based moisturizer if you have oily skin. Finally, wash your gym clothes well, making sure you have new, clean clothes for your workout the next day.
Any type of workout involving sweat can promote issues such as acne or fungal infections, but you can do your best to reduce your chances of falling prey to them by being extra hygienic and making sure to wipe down shared equipment. If you have a rash, blisters, or heat and redness on your skin, see a doctor promptly, bearing in mind that some infections such as staph can have serious consequences for yourself and others.
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Jess Walter is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.