Rug Burn: 10 Important Things Everybody Must Know About

little girl got rug burn on her elbow
Carpet burn. Source:

Rug burn is so common that almost every one of us has got it at least once in our life. In general, the injury is not severe enough to go to a doctor. Also, neither it is so trivial that we should ignore it.

Wouldn’t you want to know all about rug burn? Indeed, it would come handy if you or someone you know suffers from it.

Know everything about rugburn and its treatments. You can also do away with the burn scars. Read on to for know-how!

What Is A Rug Burn?

The skin is the outermost covering of the body, and it serves many vital functions. Since it is the external covering, it protects the internal organs from heat, dust, and other outside elements.

The skin is a great sensory organ. The sense of touch attributes to the skin surface. However, without this sense, existence would be a significant challenge. Additionally, it helps in the regulation of body temperature. With the sunlight, it also synthesizes vitamin D.

The Layers Of Skin

The skin has three layers. Each one has its characteristics and functions to discharge.

the three layers of skin

  1. Epidermis – The uppermost layer is known as the epidermis. Being the outermost layer, it ensures that pathogens and the likes do not invade the body. Typically, it regulates the water content in the body. It is composed mainly of keratinocytes cells.
  2. Dermis – The second layer, protects the body from stress and strain. It is composed of collagen fibrils, elastic fibre and such extracellular matrix. It gives strength and elasticity to the skin. Furthermore, it houses the hair follicles, sweat glands and blood vessels.
  3. Subcutaneous tissue – Technically speaking, this is not a part of the skin but binds the skin to the underlying body parts, tissues and bones. Since it is a layer of fatty tissue, it gives cushion and thermal protection to the body.

The skin hurts the underlying organs if it is broken or damaged. As a result, certain functions of the body may go haywire. The damage to the skin can be some cuts, breaks, burns or infections. In the present context, we shall look at the various type of burns that may affect the skin.

Types Of Burns

  • Thermal Burn -The skin gets burnt because it encounters something scorching. As a result, it scalds the skin. Hot metals, hot liquids, steam, and flames can do this to the skin surface.
  • Radiation Burn – The ultraviolet rays of the sun are quite hot and capable of burning the skin. Hence, the name radiation burn.
  • Chemical Burn – Many chemicals are corrosive. When it encounters the skin surface, the skin is severely burnt and damaged.
  • Electrical Burns – Electricity generates heat when it encounters resistance. So, if the body comes in contact with any exposed electrical part or wire, it burns. Thus, termed as electrical burning
  • Friction Burn – The skin is damaged and burnt when it abrades on a rough surface. Scraping or sliding on uneven roads, gravel, sand, carpet, rugs, uneven walls, bruises the skin. But the friction generates enough heat to burn the skin as well.
Which Type Is Rug Burn?

As healthline said, rug burn is a type of friction burn. Whenever our exposed body part slides over the rough carpet or rug, the skin is bruised and abraded. As a result, the friction burns the epidermis. Sometimes, if the contact has been very violent and prolonged, the dermis is also burnt.

This type of burn and damage to the skin is known as a rug burn. Though rug burn is a type of friction burn, often it is accepted as similar.

Surprisingly, this is a common reason for skin damage. Luckily in most of the cases, it is a minor bruise and skin damage which heals soon.

In some cases, it can turn very nasty and get complicated. A very complicated rug burn ended in leg amputation for a lady some time back.

No need to get scared, but care and precaution never harm. On its own, it is not threatening, but if infected by bacteria or microbes can turn for worse.

The Cause Of Rug Burn

One of the significant causes of rug burn all over the world is the children playing rough on the carpet. Their mock fights, wresting and dragging one another, most of the time end up with someone with a rug burn. The harmless-looking rug can inflict painful wounds to the children.

Many adults and elders also suffer rugburn when they trip and fall on the carpet. There could be exposed knee, shoulder, elbow or sometimes face gets bruised.

Of late accidentally falling on the treadmill turns out to be a common reason for rug burn (friction burn). Young kids playing mischief on the treadmill is also an upcoming reason for rugburn these days.

Some Additional Causes

Very rare, but sometimes people who handle and transport carpets also get injured because of rug burn.

The surface of the rug is very rough. Hence, it bruises the skin for sure. And if the contact stays for a long time or very intense, the epidermis also burns off because of friction. In exceptional cases, the dermis may also bear the brunt of the burn. However, damage to the dermis will have some severe repercussions.

How To Treat Rug Burn?

Majority of the rug burn is not severe and can be conveniently self-treated. These are some prominent telltale signs:

  1. A noticeable bruise is visible.
  2. The skin around may turn reddish, and the bruise itself may look discoloured.
  3. There could be swollen areas with or without itching sensation.
  4. Some liquid may seem to ooze out at the periphery of the bruise.

These symptoms confirm rug burn. In that case, the following treatment/first aid can be done at home.

Home Treatment Or First Aid According To SafetyHow

treatment for rug burn

  1. Hold the burn/bruise under a faucet. Let the cold water run over it for 10-12 minutes. Furthermore, ensure that all mud, grit or foreign particles wash off from the wound. This reduces the chances of secondary infection.
  2. Wash very gently with a mild soap. The idea is to disinfect the wound. It is not advisable to use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol for slight bruises.
  3. Pat dry the wound with a clean, dry soft cloth. Wet wound attracts bacteria and pathogens.
  4. Apply some over the counter antibiotic cream. If the wound is painful, we can try anaesthetic cream. Aloe vera cream or fresh aloe vera pulp would be the best if available.
  5. To prevent further abrasion and hurt on the wound, cover it with loose gauze.
  6. If there is pain, we can take any OTC pain reliever. Avoid if not necessary.
  7. Remember to clean the would daily and change the dressing.

Some Additional Care

Take proper precautions to ensure that the wound does not aggravate because of any tight clothing or any accessories.

Oversee the wound every day, if it worsens, see a doctor immediately.

These signs will tell us if the wound is worsening:

  1. The pain will increase day by day.
  2. The swelling will appear, and if it was already there, it might increase.
  3. Pus/liquid will start oozing out of the wound.
  4. Fever may set in.
How long does rug burn last?

By and large, the rug burn heals up in about a week. In general, if the damage is superficial and extends only till the epidermis.

But if the underlying dermis is also affected, it leads to second-degree burn. The collagen rupture and such allied complications may take some more time. However, with medical attention and advice, it should heal in a couple of weeks.

The rug burn is hard for the third degree. That is, it does not damage the subcutaneous layer of the skin. However, if that kind of an injury has happened, then it will take a very long time. Specifically, a few months would go by before the wound gets wholly healed.

How To Prevent Scar?

The biggest issue after the healing of the rug burn is about the scar it can leave. Scars are marks or some abnormal skin deformation or protrusion that happens after the healing of the wound.

Every rug burn does not culminate in a scar. There is some correlation between the manifestation of the scar and the time it takes to heal.

If the burn has healed in less than a week, it will not show any scar. In other words, a first-degree burn will not scar. But if the wound takes seven to fourteen days, it may or may not scar. In other words, with a damaged (second-degree burn), there are chances of a scar. Lastly, if the healing goes beyond two weeks, the chances of the discolouration are very high. So a severe second-degree burn or anything worse than that will leave a scar.

Before we dwell upon how to prevent or treat scars, let us try to understand them in little more detail.

The post-burn scars are predominantly of following types:
  • Hypertrophic scar: Red/purple coloured and slightly raised scars. They are in the place of the wound. It may be itchy and warm to feel.
  • Contracture scar: The skin, muscle and tendon on the site of wound tighten and appear all contorted and pulled up.
  • Keloid scar: This is a typical shiny, hairless bump on the place of the wound.

Out of the above three types of scars, the hypertrophic and contracture fade with time. However, the keloid scar does not change.

Au fond, there are just two ways to manage a scar:

  1. Prevent the discolouration from turning up.
  2. Medically treat it, if it has already appeared.
How to prevent the scar from forming?

Based on our research in verywellhealth, we cannot conclusively prevent the scar. But some caution controls its occurence.

Remember that the threat of scar is real on a damaged dermis. It is the collagen in the dermis which when distorted and hurt, that a scar surfaces.

  • The treatment of the wound should be as suggested before.
  • As the wound starts healing, apply silicone gel on the wound to keep it moist.
  • A dry healing wound forms scabs, and it is these scabs which turn into scars.
  • The moisture of the silicone gel ensures alignment of collagen and other factors.
  • Keep away from the ultraviolet sun rays. Use a sunscreen of a 30spf rating or higher.
  • As the wound heals, keep stretching the skin around the wound to maintain flexibility.
  • If a blister has formed, do not puncture or break it forcibly. Let it burst on its own.
  • Once that happens, let a doctor, cutaway, the loose hanging skin.

Do not use any vitamin A or vitamin E creams, it is all placebo, with no effect. It could worsen the situation.

Medical Intervention

severe cases of rug burn requires medical intervention

Hopefully, these simple steps should exhaust the possibility of a scar. But if one does appear, it has to be dealt with by a doctor.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, to treat a scar, the following medical measures are suggested:

  1. One can try steroid injections. It will reduce the pain and the wounds may disappear over a period of time.
  2. Many resorts to laser treatment. It manages the pain, reduces the redness of the scar and in many cases, the size of the injury reduces considerably.
  3. Finally, the option of surgery exists, which cuts and removes the scar.

We can think of all these options. Only if the scar is in such a place that makes you look and feel bad. However, if it is in some hidden place, maybe we can live with it.

How To Get Rid Of Rug Burn Fast?

Proper care and precautions can hasten the healing of the rug burn. First and foremost, we must ensure that we do not get hurt in the same place again. Furthermore, remember to clean and redress the bruise daily. Eat a healthy and nutritious diet. Also, look out for any pus or liquid oozing out from the injury. If that happens, check with a doctor immediately.

If we are on an antibiotic medication, follow the drug entirely and do not stop it on our own. Keep yourself hydrated. Try to keep away infection by being clean and hygienic.

Avoid tight-fitting clothes over the injured area.

The rug burns though very common are not difficult to handle. In short, proper first aid and appropriate precaution can heal it fast.


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