Relieving Pain from Rug Burn

Written by April Reinhardt (last updated September 5, 2008)


Do you have kids who like to roughhouse indoors? While on your knees and elbows, do you play with your dog in the middle of the living room floor? Or perhaps you're the IT person at work, and your job involves crawling around on the carpet all day running network cable. Skin-to-surface friction contact of any kind can result in rug burn.

Most often we think of rug burn in conjunction with sliding across carpeting. But rug burn is actually a burn-like injury caused by the friction of rubbing bare skin against any rough surface. I recall playing on a vinyl-tiled playroom floor when I was seven years old, wearing shorts and walking on my knees from one end of the room to the other, and getting bad rug burns on both knees. The constant friction of skin-to-surface rubbed the top layer of skin from my knees, resulting in rug burn.

Rug burn is characteristic of first-degree burns, in that the skin turns red, may involve slight swelling and itching, and is sore and sensitive to the touch. Some more serious rug burns involve other layers of skin, leaving an open, moist sore.

Oftentimes rug burns are not treated because they are viewed as minor injuries. But as with any burn, there is pain involved and a slight risk of infection, since one or several layers of skin have been exposed. There are several things you can do to relieve rug burn pain:

  • Never apply ice to a rug burn. Instead, run cold water over the burn for at least five minutes.
  • Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment to the burn, but do not bandage it. Keep the injury site dry at all times, patting dry after bathing, and reapplying antibiotic ointment as necessary.
  • Do not wear clothing over the burn, as further fabric friction will exacerbate it. If possible, keep the burn exposed to promote healing. If you must wear clothing over the burn, or if your bedding rubs against the burn, place sterile gauze over it and tape it in place with first aid tape until you can expose the injury to air again.

As with all first-degree burns, there are products that you should never use to treat them, and those things are:

  • Ice
  • Lotion
  • Powder
  • Baby oil
  • Scented products containing alcohol
  • Butter

Using such products will not promote healing and, in fact, will hinder the cure. If a rug burn doesn't scab over and continues to fester after two weeks, seek immediate medical advice.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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What is three less than 9?

2016-04-25 20:32:22


My carpet burn is on my shoulder and its very bad it is brown on the out side and pink or red in he middle and when I try to put water it burns really bad

2016-02-26 00:16:27

No one

I got a rug burn like a hour ago and it became purple hurts on the inside

2016-01-19 20:34:14

Peanut 85 aj and lps me

Hey Susan I think it should air out it feels better trust me

2016-01-19 20:29:50

Peanut 85 aj and lps me

I skipped and got a burn from pavement and this helped a little but it still really hurts but luckily I didn't get infected thank you I washed it really good and got the dirt away :)

2015-12-15 23:04:54


I'm a student at Stanton County Elementary and we were in the middle of a suicide drill for basketball and I fell and burn my knee and this really helped.

2015-08-06 13:12:49


very helpful

2015-05-07 23:15:11


I had got a burn earlier during school and played a baseball game after, I was afraid it was infected so I was gonna put ice on it, but I searched on how to treat rug burns and found this! It really helped disinfect it, thank you!

2015-05-06 02:40:45


It's also good if you apply cream and bandage it

2015-05-02 21:59:48


This was helpful but before I read this I applied ice to the burn

2015-02-09 03:09:41


I fell down a 14 carpeted steps caring my 1 y grandson.. Any we slid with my right leg beneath me.. I have serious rug burn to the top of my right foot . I'm not sure if a broke toes or the foot itself. ( I don't have insurance . I'll see)
Anyway !
Thank you for your advice. I found it very helpful. Could you please explain why some say to keep covered and protected.... while others say leave it dry..??

2012-08-24 08:59:44


Thank you , this was very helpful