The more we train, the less susceptible we become to matburn. This could be for a variety of reasons. For starters, as we train areas of skin that come into the most contact with the mat may become tougher. Another possible explanation is that we naturally protect ourselves better by knowing when to shift weight or distribute it more evenly. In any event, mat burn is always a possibility no matter how long you’ve been doing jiu jitsu.
Perhaps the worst part about mat burn is that it can get infected. Even the cleanest mats are still teeming with pathogens (yes I’m a germaphobe…) Mat burn, even if it’s not open and bloody, is still essentially a new open wound. As soon as I have an opportunity after training, I douse any mat burn with hydrogen peroxide and put some sort of antiseptic cream on it (I personally like Neosporin.) I leave the area uncovered to allow it to start to heal faster.
My coach taught me about tea tree oil, which is another good thing to put on any sort of lesions, it is antiseptic and I’ve noticed it tends to dry wounds out pretty nicely which speeds up the healing process.
One of the most important things to remember with mat burn is that if it’s not exposed to the mat, it probably won’t get mat burn on it. That said, I personally generally wear long sleeve rash guards and spats when rolling no gi to decrease the amount of open skin in contact with the mat. I’ve also seen “socks” that have been made specifically for grappling; often these have open toes and heels for grip but otherwise protect the foot.
Treating a mat burn as an open wound can mean that you would be well advised to tape it up and/or put Vaseline on it. This will protect the wound better than leaving it completely open. Not my favorite option but it can work. Taping wounds up is always a tricky proposition as the tape may not stick well if you’re sweaty, and is not fun to take off if it sticks well to your skin.
Mat burn sucks. It happens to all of us. If you’re lucky, you train in a gym with decent mats so it’s a bit less common but it has very likely happened to you. How do you deal with it when it happens? Are there any proactive measures that you take? Once it has happened, how do you treat it?