How to care for a rug burn

A rug burn is a type of first degree burn caused by friction of the body with fibers of rugs, carpet or another abrasive surface. When there is friction between the body and the rug, it causes a mild amount of heat and it is the most common type of friction burn.

Large rug burns such as in the hands, face or feet requires medical help immediately to prevent infection and complications. This heat causes damage on the superficial surface of the skin leaving the area rough and red and sometimes peeling of the skin.

Rug burn usually happens in areas of bony prominence such as the elbow and knees. Rug burns are self-healing but they can become serious when it develops secondary infections. Rug burns are common among children since they have a higher risk of falling on a carpet or rugs but this can also occur among adults.

Rug burn

Rug burn usually happens in areas of bony prominence such as the elbow and knees.


  • The skin gets scraped and chafed
  • Pain
  • Mild redness and inflammation
  • The color of the skin becomes pink


  • Remove any clothing or jewelry from the affected area of the body to prevent difficulty removing them when the area becomes worse.
  • Apply cool water on the affected at least 5-10 minutes. Another option is by running the burned area in running cool water over the area or soaking the area in cold water. A wash cloth can be soaked in cold water and applied on the affected area. The coolness of the water dissolves the heat from the friction that can worsen it.
  • Wash the affected area using an antiseptic cleanser to prevent bacteria from causing infection on the damaged area. Keep it dry by cleaning the area using a sterilized cotton ball.
  • Apply a burn cream on the affected area to prevent infection and scarring. If a cream is not available, apply aloe vera lotion or gel to lessen the inflammation and pain.
  • Cover the burned area using dry and sterile gauze pad to protect the area from friction and pressure and promote fast healing of the condition. Avoid covering the area using adhesive bandage since it prevents the flow of air in the burned area and slows down the healing process.
  • Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin or acetaminophen to lessen the pain and friction caused by the rug burn.
  • If the swelling and redness becomes severe, pus or there is drainage of fluid, seek medical care immediately.

More Information

The details posted on this page on a rug burn is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage various wounds including a rug burn, enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.


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