Turf burn is a common injury among people who play sports, especially football and soccer. A turf burn is an abrasion, a skin wound caused by friction that results in traumatic loss of the superficial skin layers. This leaves a painful, unsightly so-called raspberry abrasion. Proper treatment of turf burn is essential to speed healing, prevent infection and reduce the potential for scarring.
Turf burns vary in severity. Superficial abrasions typically don't bleed much but more severe ones might. Apply pressure with a clean cloth or sterile gauze to control the bleeding, which usually stops within a few minutes. Be aware, however, that turf burns commonly ooze clear fluid for hours or sometimes days after the injury.
Gently clean the abrasion with mild soap and water or saltwater to remove any dirt and debris that may be adhering to the wound. You can make a gentle saltwater solution by adding 2 teaspoons of salt to 4 cups of warm water. Avoid use of chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide, iodine and rubbing alcohol, which typically causes unnecessary pain and may further damage the injured skin.
Mild turf burn injuries often require no further treatment other than a nonstick adhesive bandage to protect the wound until it heals. For a larger or more painful abrasion, apply hydrogel liberally to the injured skin. Hydrogel is a water-based gel available over the counter. It keeps the abrasion moist after the covering bandage is applied, often leading to reduced pain and possibly faster healing. Alternatively, you can apply an over-the-counter hydrogel bandage if the abrasion can be completely covered by it.
If you've applied hydrogel fluid rather than a hydrogel bandage to the turf burn, cover the area completely with an occlusive dressing -- meaning one that is air- and water-tight. This type of dressing maintains a moist environment to promote healing and protect the area from infection. Occlusive dressings available over the counter range from waterproof transparent films to waterproof bandages.
Change the dressing or bandage within 1 to 2 days to ensure that the turf burn is still moist and shows no signs of infection, such as increasing redness or a foul odor. Continue with regular dressing changes daily or every other day until the abrasion is healed, which typically occurs in about 7 to 10 days. When the abrasion is covered with new pink skin, you can discontinue treatment.