There’s no doubt that grappling arts such as Jiu Jitsu and wrestling can cause adults to develop acne. Even if you have had clear skin since you were a teenager, your skin may change after a year or two of training BJJ.

In this article we’ll discuss three common causes of Jiu Jitsu acne, what preventative measures can be taken to avoid Jiu Jitsu acne, and various treatment options.

There are three main causes of acne in Jiu Jitsu athletes: fungus, bacteria, and hormones.

While fungal acne is less commonly found on the face outside of grappling, due to the nature of our sport, Jiu Jitsu athletes are more prone to developing fungal acne on the face and neck. Fungal acne is caused by the development of yeast and is also commonly found on back, chest, and upper arms. It is usually itchy, red, and swollen and does not have a head.

Bacterial acne is a result of bacteria getting trapped in pores. Any event that disrupts the normal skin flora can cause bacterial acne. When too much oil or dead skin gets trapped in a pore, this can produce an environment where bacteria can thrive. Bacterial acne can be as mild as a whitehead or blackhead, or can become irritated, painful, and inflamed.

Hormonal acne is a result of hormone fluctuations. Hormones are wildly complex and integrated with every facet of your functional body. When your hormones change, your body may produce excess sebum, or oil, which can clog pores and result in breakouts of all different types.

The first step to preventing and fighting Jiu Jitsu acne is to develop a healthy skincare routine and maintain a healthy diet and weight.

The best thing you can do for your face or wherever else you tend to develop acne from BJJ is to wash religiously with warm water and a gentle facial cleanser as soon as possible after every training session. If your gym doesn’t have a shower or if you prefer to shower at home, at least head to the bathroom after class and wash your face in the sink. Cleansing whatever dirt, oil, bacteria, and fungus you picked up from the mats as soon as possible after Jiu Jitsu should be the first step you take towards preventing and fighting Jiu Jitsu acne.

If you’re looking for a body soap to help fight post-training bacteria buildup, try Gaidama’s Original Jiu Jitsu Funk Soap or Charcoal Jiu Jitsu Funk Soap for an all-natural cleanse infused with powerful essential oils that target after-training funk.

Your body relies on its immune system to fight the overdevelopment of fungus and bacteria on your skin and to help regulate your hormones. For competitive grapplers, activities like cutting weight, overtraining, or taking steroids can affect both your hormones and immune system. If you are acne prone at all, these activities may increase your risk of breakouts.

If you have already developed acne from grappling sports, a dermatologist will be able to properly diagnose your case and offer a treatment plan. Be sure to mention that you train BJJ and how fungal facial acne is more common in Jiu Jitsu so that they don’t immediately overlook it as a possibility since fungal acne can look like other kinds of acne and doesn’t often develop on the face under normal circumstances.

If you’re looking for at-home remedies, here are a handful of suggestions that we’ve compiled from our community:

  1. For fungal acne, try washing at night with diluted Head and Shoulders dandruff shampoo. Dandruff is also a fungus, so the same formula can help acne caused by fungus. There are also several over-the-counter fungal acne treatments available online that have similar ingredients in more measured doses.
  1. If you’re a woman with hormonal acne and you are not opposed to using medications for treatment, talk to your dermatologist about Spironolactone. Spironolactone is commonly used to treat hormonal acne in women with relatively high effectiveness.
  1. For bacterial or hormonal acne in both men and women, a gentle cleanser with Benzoyl Peroxide like this one by CeraVe is often recommended as a very effective treatment. Benzoyl Peroxide both fights bacteria and helps open clogged pores.

In summary, Jiu Jitsu can certainly play a role in the unexpected development of acne in adults. However, there are several preventative measures and treatments for all kinds of acne that can help grapplers reclaim a healthy skin.

August 17, 2023 — Kendall Vernon