Friction burn


A friction burn is a form of abrasion caused by the friction of skin rubbing against a surface. A friction burn may also be referred to as skinning, chafing, or a term named for the surface causing the burn such as rope burn, carpet burn or rug burn. Because friction generates heat, extreme cases of chafing may result in genuine burning of the outer layers of skin.[1]

Friction burn
Other namesCarpet burn, rope burn, rug burn, sand burn
Friction burn caused by a rope
CausesCarpet, rope, rug, treadmill, sand
Friction burn caused by a treadmill. Example of a third-degree friction burn

The dermal papillae may be exposed after top layers of the epidermis (stratum corneum, stratum granulosum, stratum spinosum and stratum basale) have been removed. This is often uncomfortable and even painful, but rarely results in bleeding.

A person's own skin (or the skin of another person) may be sufficient to act as an abrasive surface to cause friction burn. More commonly, friction with abrasive surfaces, including clothing, carpet, or rope, can lead to a friction burn. Common places at which skin-to-skin chafing can occur are between the thighs and under the armpits. Friction burns are very common with clothing such as trousers on the knees caused by playing sport or sliding on wooden surfaces.

Less dangerous friction burns can occur frequently on sensitive skin surfaces such as the genitals, such as during sexual intercourse or masturbation.

The risks of a friction burn include infection and temporary or permanent scarring.


Most minor cases of a friction burn require little to no treatment, as a specific case of allergy might aggravate the burn.

Treatments for friction burns usually involve application of an anti-inflammatory cream. Pain relieving medication may also be taken.[2]


  1. ^ Agrawal, A.; Raibagkar, S.C.; Vora, H.J. (31 March 2008). "Friction Burns: Epidemiology and Prevention". Annals of Burns and Fire Disasters. 21 (1): 3–6. PMC 3188131. PMID 21991101.
  2. ^ Terrie, Yvette C. (16 September 2011). "First Aid for Minor Burns and Wounds". Pharmacy Times. September 2011 Pain Awareness. Intellisphere. 77 (9). Retrieved 11 November 2014.