Turf Burn

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A turf burn is a sports injury caused by friction between the naked skin and turf (either the artificial turf found in synthetic fields or natural grass).

This friction causes loss of skin layers for the affected athlete. In some cases, the athlete may be left with an open wound.

This injury causes serious pain. Victims usually feel stinging  pain whenever a turf burn is touched. The body parts most usually affected are the thighs, knees, palms and arms. Infection is one of the major possible complications faced by those with this type of injury.

In this article we describe the key steps in treating turf burn injuries.We will also provide some suggestions for potentially preventing them altogether, or for reducing their risk of occurrence.

Turf Burn Symptoms

Turf burn will usually cause intense pain over the injured area. There may also be evidence of skin damage and bleeding in the same area.

If an infection is present, the athlete may also notice skin redness, swelling, blisters and pus oozing from the injured area. Other signs of an infection may include the emergence of a fever.

If an infection is suspected, see a doctor immediately.

What To Do If You Experience Turf Burn

As mentioned below, a turf burn injury with no sign of infection can be treated easily by taking the steps listed below in the Treatment section.

However, if you suspect the presence of infection, you should take steps to see a doctor immediately. Infections can be localized at the beginning but can easily spread to other areas (especially if the bacteria enter the bloodstream) so this should be treated as a matter of urgency. The signs of an infection have been listed in the Symptoms section above.

Potential Complications

Athletes and other individuals active in sports tend to have a higher risk of skin infections due to the higher incidence of skin abrasions among them. This is also a result of the higher level of close physical contact these individuals have with other athletes on the field.

Turf burn injuries, to the extent that they can cause open wounds or damaged skin, tend to further increase the incidence of these infections.

In addition, skin wounds such as those from turf burn are prone to bacterial infections such as staphylococcus aureus (commonly known as staph). We have mentioned the signs of a possible infection above.

How to Treat A Turf Burn Injury

In treating turf burn injuries, immediate attention is vital. The good news is that specialized medical attention is not needed for effective treatment. Even a team mate can apply the necessary treatment. It is much more important that the treatment be given immediately.

In addition,a basic first aid kit like the Briefcase Kit will normally contain all the ingredients necessary for effective treatment.

As mentioned above, skin wounds such as those from turf burn injuries can increase the risk of bacteria entering the body and causing infections. As a result, it is important to avoid touching the wound with bare hands while treating it.

To treat a turf burn injury, follow these steps:

  • Wash hands thoroughly. Consider wearing sterile medical gloves, these are available;
  • If bleeding is present, stauch it with a clean bandage or dressing. Hold the bandage or dressing firmly against the burn until the bleeding ceases;
  • Clean the wound and remove any sand or dirt that may be present. This is an important step to prevent infection. Clean the wound using a saline solution like the one available on this site., or using water and a mild soap.
  • Pat the wound dry using a clean cloth.
  • Apply an antibiotic lotion such as Polysporin Triple Antibiotic ointmen.
  • Place a non adhesive dressing over the wound. We suggest Telfa Non Adherent Dressing would be a good choice for this purpose;
  • Finally, use a breathable cotton bandage to cover the non adherent dressing and secure it in place.

Unless there are complications (such as an infection) , a turf burn injury may take only a few weeks to heal.

Prevention Of Turf Burns

One effective way to prevent these injuries is by using protective equipment such as elbow and knee pads. They will prevent contact between the turf/grass and bare skin, thus eliminating the injury risk altogether.

In addition to wearing these pads, athletes can take steps to avoid exposing too much skin while playing.  For example, they can wear long sleeved shirts and long socks whenever possible.

Shin pads can also be helpful in covering the skin and protecting it from possible turf burn injuries.

Suggested Turf Burn Products


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