Carpet burns, rug burns or turf burns are all colloquial terms for the same thing: a nasty friction burn on the skin, that stings like hell and oozes blood and puss. The term carpet burn and rug burn are slang and get their name from friction burns one might pick up from having sex on the carpet. Well most us, (certainly me at least), don’t lead such exciting lifestyles but we still all get carpet burns from time to time, especially if we play sport. Even though they are considered minor injuries, because it is a large open wound, they often get infected and can lead to very serious complications. You must treat carpet burns immediately to avoid this. Fortunately, there are several home remedies to treat carpet burns that will heal the wound and stop the pus.
Carpet burn Infection
Carpet burns or rug burns are common injuries in football and soccer and are picked up when sliding in some shape or form on the turf- hence the term ‘turf burn’. During the game, you will barely notice the injury as it never seems to hurt at the time. But a few hours later, the wounds are excruciatingly painful and begin to ooze puss for days on end.
Carpet burns tend to be shallow burns but spread over a large surface area. They tend to be located on the knee, hip or elbow as this is usually the first point of contact the body makes when sliding on the turf or floor.
The surface area combined with the fact that they are located on joints prevents the scabbing process from taking hold leaving an open wound that just won’t heal. Because the wounds are generally picked up in sports, dirt is often mixed in with the wound as well. The wounds don’t hurt at first and people tend to get quickly dressed after sport, leaving the wound open to rub against clothing. A carpet burn infection is extremely common as the bacteria has so many opportunities to enter and infect the wound.
Signs of a carpet burn infection
If you’re looking at the image above, this is what a carpet burn infection looks like when left unattended.
You will notice that the carpet burn on the elbow is in the middle and yet we can see infectious pus blisters forming around the wound. The carpet burn infection has spread well beyond the original wound. This person (my son) ended up being hospitalized with septicemia (blood poisoning) caused by a carpet burn infection.
The reason why I write about this is the local nurse dismissed my concerns that the wound was infected at the start and this misjudgment led to a life-threatening complication and a course of the strongest antibiotics. This minor wound was now deadly serious.
So it is absolutely vital that you check for signs of carpet burn infection and seek medical attention if you find them. If the carpet burn becomes infected, it will ooze more pus and fail to scab. The body cannot cope with moist open wounds and the infection can quickly spread in a matter of days. The wound you see in this image is only 5 days old.
Signs of infection are:
- The wound refuses to scab and continues to ooze pus
- The pus that is secreted is yellow, not clear.
- The wound will continue to look raw and sore with no improvement after days
- You may notice that the wound smells
- The area around the wound becomes inflamed and red.
- Yellow pus-filled blisters and spots may appear near the wound
- You run a high temperature
- You feel lethargic and weak
How to treat carpet burn
1.Take a Bath
Cleaning the wound is an obvious starting point when deciding on home remedies to treat carpet burn. All wounds need to be clean of dirt and grit to avoid infection.
If you ever had a carpet burn, ‘clean the wound’ sounds great in practice, but my goodness, it’s painful. A common cause of carpet burn infections is because people don’t clean their wounds properly due to the extreme pain involved. If your child has a wound, cleaning the wound can often mean ‘restraining’ your child.
Not very pleasant.
However, there is a neat trick for cleaning carpet burn wounds: take a long bath.
There will be some initially stinging as you submerge the wound. After 30mins of soaking in the bath, the pain will disappear and you will be able to wipe down the wound with cotton balls without crying in pain. Be sure to put some bubble bath in your bath as the detergent is anti-bacterial and if you have anti-bacterial soap, then wipe the wound with this. However, normal soap, bubble bath, and a very long soak will clean wound just fine.
2. Open air approach
There are effectively two courses for treatment: the open air approach or a bandage. And this is where things get a little complicated and you will need to make a judgment call as to which approach to use.
If the wound can form a complete scab, you do not want to apply a bandage. Leave it in the open air. The scab forms a protective barrier from bacteria and allows the carpet burn to heal on its own beneath the scab. It is effectively your body’s natural version of the bandage and if you can get the wound to scab and the scab to hold, then go down this route. Carpet burns heal much faster if they form a scab and are left exposed to the open air.
This is why taking a long bath is so important.
After a long soak, all carpet burns will quickly scab over in about 30 minutes after you have got out of the bath. However, carpet burns will not scab if you just clean it in running water. If you soak and bathe, the wound scabs over. I have no idea why, but that is just how it is.
3. Bandage approach
However, if the burn is deep and wide, or if the carpet burn is on an elbow or knee, then the chances are the new scab will split and the wound will continue to pus is high. Likewise, you may be unable to keep the scab protected if you have to wear clothes.
If the scab that forms after the bath doesn’t hold, then you will need to wear a bandage for a few days. So it is important when dressing the carpet burn to apply anti- bacterial lubricant between the wound and the bandage. (Listed below). The reason being is that any small movement of the bandage over the surface of the wound is incredibly painful and this is a big problem if the carpet burn is over a joint. What’s more, the wound will continue to ooze pus and often the bandage will become ‘attached’ to the wound.
Changing the bandage if this happens is agony. The lubricant is absolutely necessary to stop this happening.
After two days, remove the bandage and see if a scab will form and hold. Your chance of a scab holding should be much higher with two days healing in the bag. If the scab holds, remove the bandage. You can continue to apply the natural home remedies to treat the carpet burns.
Home Remedies to treat carpet burns
Honey is one of the best home remedies to treat carpet burns. It so good in fact, that is now routinely used by medical professionals to treat skin and to bandage skin abrasions. Honey has long been known to have several health and beauty benefits, but it is strongly anti-bacterial and will keep the wound free from a carpet burn infection.
What’s more, honey will act as a comforting lubricant between the bandage and the sore carpet burn, allowing free movement of the joint. If you have an open air carpet burn, then rubbing some honey over the scab will keep it supple and prevent it from breaking and exposing the wound to infection. For best effects, use manuka honey or organic honey.
5. Antiseptic Cream:
Antiseptic cream comes in many guises and can be purchased from any pharmacy. The cream will keep the wound disinfected in the bandage and will provide the necessary lubrication for free movement.
6. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel is used to treat skin conditions and is a popular home remedy to treat carpet burns. It is the remedy you should choose if you are worried about a carpet burn scar. Like honey, it also acts as a natural lubricant between the bandage and the wound. And again like honey, Aloe Vera gel is has proven anti-bacterial properties. (1) If your carpet burn wound has scabbed and you are not using a bandage, aloe vera gel can be applied topically to the scab to keep it supple and avoid cracking.
7. Essential oils and lard
Many essential oils are anti-bacterial and can be used to make a suitable dressing to treat a carpet burn wound. The oils with the best anti-bacterial qualities are cinnamon oil (2), tea tree oil (3), thyme oil(4) and oregano oil (5). The oil on their own are too strong and will not provide the lubrication required between the bandage and the wound.
To make essentials oils into a dressing to treat carpet burn, heat two table spoons of lard and add 5 drops of the essential oil of your choice. Heat on a low heat – you do not want to cook the oil. Just ensure that it infuses with the lard. Allow the solution to cool and coagulate. This can then be used to apply to the dressing providing the necessary lubrication for the carpet burn or applied to the scab to keep it supple.
8. Marigold Flowers and Parsley Leaves
Marigold and parsley are a herbal remedy to treat skin abrasions that goes back centuries. Modern science has recently shown the plants to have anti-bacterial properties (6), (7). To try this remedy for carpet burns, crush the parsley and marigold flowers in a pestle and mortar to create a fine paste. Then apply the paste topically to the scab as it heals. You should not use this remedy if you have a bandage. While marigold and parsley possess antibacterial properties, the paste is abrasive and will sit uncomfortably in the dressing.
9. Elderflowers and Lard
This is another ointment which has long been used as a traditional home remedy to treat skin abrasions and it has proven anti-bacterial properties (8). It works great as well for carpet burns. Again the principle is to infuse the active ingredients of the elderflower into lard and apply topically to the scab. This remedy is not recommended as a lubricant for a bandage as the ointment is coarse. It will irritate the wound if there is movement in the joint.
10. Hydrogen peroxide or Iodine
There’s little magic here. Hydrogen peroxide and iodine are straight-up disinfectants which will kill all microbes and prevent a carpet burn infection. They will not act as a lubricant, but they are powerful. You should apply this remedy to treat the skin abrasion immediately after you have soaked the wound in your bath and the scab has formed. You then can choose whether to bandage or go for the open air approach afterward.
11. Apple Cider Vinegar
For those people who dislike modern chemicals, but still appreciate the benefits of disinfection, apple cider vinegar can be used instead of iodine and hydrogen peroxide to prevent a carpet burn infection (9) Apple cider vinegar has well documented anti-bacterial qualities and it will prep your wound ready for bandaging. It will not act as a lubricant.
- Dress the carpet burn daily if you have applied a bandage and check for signs of carpet burn infection
- Try to use bandages and dressings that let air through rather than sealing the wound off
- Touch the wound unless you’re cleaning it. Your fingers have all sorts of bacteria on them and touching will give you a carpet burn infection.
- Don’t pick the scab otherwise you could cause scarring. Let it fall off naturally to avoid scarring.
- Don’t get the dressing wet
- Don’t use plasters. They are rarely big enough and they are too painful to remove on a daily basis. Use bandages and wound dressings