Originally published July 15, 2015
Rope burn sucks – and silks burn can be even worse! Memorize these steps for initial treatment, preventing infection, and minimizing scarring.
Here are the cliff notes:
Immediately run under cold water.
Clean with soap and water.
Keep it clean and dry.
Firstly, you should always be treating a rope burn like you would a heat burn. Skin contact, pressure, and rubbing create friction. The friction heats up your skin (and the rope) and causes a friction burn. If you were to burn your hand on a hot stove, the first thing that you would do is run your hand under cold water, right? This stops the residual heat from cooking your flesh further.
Commit this to heart: as soon as you realize you have rope burn, stop what you’re doing and run the burn under cold water until the burning stops. This usually takes 1 to 5 minutes, depending on severity.
Next, take steps to clean the wound and keep it clean. While your wound may not be bleeding, it is probably leaking clear lymph fluid. That means that the barrier between your innards and the outside world (your skin) is compromised; you should treat this like an open cut. Not only is there bacteria on your clothes and the circus equipment, there’s also bacteria all over your skin. Everyone has perfectly normal flora that lives on the surface of their skin, but it can cause severe infection if it makes its way inside.
While it’s healing, be alert for signs of infection until the wound is healed. If there is inflammation (pain, redness, swelling, and heat), redness around the area, or pus (ew!), seek medical attention. Another sign of infection is fever.
Finally, use some Aloe vera several times a day to help prevent scarring.