Andrew Smith is a BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, Virginia. He is one of the owners of Revolution BJJ.
BJJ training and warts
Nearly all BJJ gyms take precautions against staph, MRSA, and ringworm, and rightfully so! These plagues of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and grappling mats are disgusting and irritating, and staph can be potentially very harmful (and conceivably fatal, although that's not super likely). But the "silent demon" at many BJJ gym is the wart. Warts are certainly not harmful in the sense of MRSA being harmful, but in many cases (plantar warts, especially) they can be painful and extremely irritating. What should you do if you find that you have a wart and you train grappling?
Covering skin with tape works!
Step 1: precautions
This first step actually breaks down into two separate things:
- Tell your instructor! It's important that your instructor, or particularly the gym owner, knows about what's ailing you with regard to any skin infection. There are often times things we (as gym owners) can do in order to help prevent the spread of infection that go far above and beyond anything one individual student can do, so please, PLEASE tell us immediately. Don't be embarrassed; we're all in this together and skin infections do happen. It isn't your fault if you get a wart or other skin infection, but it is your responsibility to tell us.
- Cover that thing! This is super important. It is okay to train while you have a wart, but you absolutely must keep it covered while training. I highly recommend J&J tape for covering any open sore or wart. Don't neglect this for even a single training session, even if you're just drilling or doing technique! Skin to skin contact is how these guys jump from one person to another.
Step 2: seek and destroy
If you're like me, and you have a wart, you want that little sucker gone, STAT. I've gone to the dermatologist to have them burned off, I've used the Dr Scholl's home treatment kit (includes both acid and home freezing stuff), and I've even resorted to scraping or cutting them off. The thing that has worked the best, and is the easiest to use to boot, is the Curad Mediplast pads.
These things are advertised as "corn, callus and wart removers", but I've only ever used them for warts, and I don't think that the fact that they *can* be used for stuff other than warts necessarily makes them any less effective. Anyway, the way it works is that you get out one of the "pads." These things have a soft side (exposed) and a sticky side (with peel-away paper attached to it). All you do is snip out the size and shape of the pad that you need (the pad is 2 inches by 3 inches), then peel away the sticky side, and stick that thing right on your wart (and the surrounding skin, if you're like me). And that's it.
You can repeat the process after 48 hours, and if one comes off while you're doing physical activity (usually they'll stay on while washing hands or taking a shower), you can just put a new piece right on. Because they come 25 pads to a pack, you get like a decade's worth of them (remember, you're only going to use the exact size you need each time). One pad over the course of a couple weeks should be enough to destroy most warts.
Step 3: educate
Now that you know the way warts are spread and the dangers of having them, spread the word! Tell people that warts are skin infections, and that they shouldn't ever train with them exposed! Don't hesitate to point them to this article if it makes a difference, and they can even reach out to me personally if they'd like. I'll be glad to explain why it's not cool to smear their warty parts on me while we're rolling, although generally speaking, once people get the concept that a wart is a skin infection they need to treat as such, people tend to be very agreeable when it comes to covering and treating (steps 1 and 2 above) these little buggers. Education is the key, though, and without it, we're going to head back into the jiu jitsu dark ages.
I've known more than a few grapplers who ended up having plantar warts, or warts on the soles of their feet. These are incredibly irritating for two reasons. First, they're super hard to get rid of. Second, they're actually painful. I've dodged the plantar wart bullet myself, but I've had lengthy discussions with students and friends who have had to treat their warts.
Important steps if you have warts on your feet:
- Wear wrestling shoes when training. Any and every time you train, your obligation is to protect your training partners from getting the infection! Wrestling shoes make it possible to continue training safely. Just make sure you wash your shoes every time you train.
- Wear "shower shoes" (flip flops) in the shower at your home and, especially, at the gym. Make sure never to walk around barefoot anywhere, especially in the shower!
- Treat the warts professionally. I've heard that putting baking soda in your sock will actually eat away at the warts; unfortunately, it also eats away at your foot, so your dermatologist might be a better option here.
When in doubt, get it looked at by the pros
If you're serious about training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you really ought to cultivate a good relationship with a dermatologist in your area. In today's educated age, there really isn't any excuse for living in the dark and not treating yourself properly, particularly when it comes to diagnosing any sort of skin infection.
As always, be sure to tell your instructor and the gym owner if you have warts or any other sort of skin infection. They need to be made aware so that they can help prevent the spread and take any other necessary measures. Together, we can crush these little buggers!
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Alternatively, have that sucker burned off!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Shar57 on May 11, 2017:
So when I was in 4 th grade , I'm 60 now, I figured out how to get rid of the warts on my fingers. They were called seed warts. Just little ones. On the pads of my some of my fingers.
I was smart intuitive little girl.
For some reason I just KNEW, if I kept it covered for weeks and weeks they would just...... go away. They did.
My mom had taking me to the doctors I get them burned off and then came back
Anyway I wrap them up really tight and masking tape that was the only kind of tape that was available to me at that time and I kept it on the capital markets washing my hands like a plan I like to put that I didn't change it I never took it off finally close to a month later he took it off and they were gone never to come back I just experimented on that one finger after that the rest I have since told family members and friends about this.
They did it too. Theirs also went away.
there were a couple of people whose did come back but I would say the majority of people they just never came back.
maybe the people whos did come back, maybe they had a different type of wart or maybe they weren't as diligent as keeping the tape on.
maybe they didn't have theirs as tightly wrapped. Make sure it snug. But don't be cutting off ur circulation. Its a practically free treatment and it doesn't hurt.