Rope burn, also known as friction burn, occurs when the skin rubs against a surface that can cause friction. In some cases, rubbing skin to skin can cause rope burn. This type of injury is more likely to be superficial and does not require stitches or surgery. Due to its superficial burn, there are many ways on how to treat rope burn. If any type of rope burn is not treated properly, there can be consequences such as infections. The main components that lead to rope burn is the heat combining with speed and pressure that causes friction.
The symptoms of rope burn usually include:
- Burning sensation
- Sunburn-like appearance
- Removal of skin
- Open sores
- Occasional bleeding
Some of the causes for rope burn can include but are not limited to the following:
- Rubbing one surface over another
- Sliding down ropes
- Horseback riding
- Motorcycle accident
If the incident is minor, there is usually no need to visit the doctor’s office. Often times the symptoms that are presented can indicate that one has rope burn. A trained medical professional will diagnosis a rope burn by performing a physical exam. In rare cases, a doctor may request additional testing such as an CT scan or an x-ray to rule out any further unseen damage. If there is no additional damage, a doctor will tell you how to treat rope burn.
Treating a rope burn is simple and easy. The first step to treat any type of rope burn is to clean it. This means using lukewarm water to pour over or soak the affected area in for several minutes. A quick wash or dap of water will not suffice to clean the area. It is recommended to only use water and not hydro peroxide to clean the area. Make sure that while cleaning the area you remove all debris using your fingers, a cotton swab, q-tip or tweezers.
Once you have completely cleaned the area, it is time to classify the type of burn you have. If it is minor, then you can continue treating the wound at home. For a wound that appears deep or looks infected, seek medical attention as soon as possible. If treating a rope burn at home, allow the affected area to air dry before applying medication. Once the area is completely dry, apply an antibiotic gel such as Neosporin, over the entire area. Once this has been competed wrap the area with a cloth or sterilize gauze. Do not wrap the area too tight because it can increase the risk of infection. For pain relief, over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen, Aleve, Tylenol or Advil can help relieve some pain. This form of treatment can be completed three to four times a day until the burn has healed. Depending on the type of burn and area, healing times can differ. The usual healing time can be anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months.
Other ways to treat a rope burn rather than using antibiotic gel include:
- Aloe Vera- This gel is used on sunburns and it said to have “magical powers” to heal any type of burn. While it is important to stick to the “proper” treatment, sometimes a different method can work better on someone else skin.
- Turmeric- Applying this strong flavored spice onto a rope burn can help decrease the risk of inflammation and pain.
Once A Burn Is Infected
Unfortunately, one can do everything right but still get a bacterial infection from their rope burn. If the area of the rope burn is infected, medical attention should be sought immediately. Doctors will most likely give you a treatment plan that includes antibiotics and creams. One of the types of creams commonly used for infected rope burns is silver sulfadiazine. This cream should only be applied with sterile gloves and once the area has been cleaned. It may be tempting to want to break or burst the burn blisters on and around the affected area but refrain from popping them. Breaking a burn blister can cause pain, infection and prolong the healing process.
Just because it is called rope burn, doesn’t mean that you should only protect yourself from ropes. Protecting yourself from rope burn can be done by following the list below.
- Always wear the correct protective gear
- Use gauze or wrap as a protective layer when working out
- When dressing a rope burn area, never reuse old bandages or gauze, this can lead to infections.