Call it what you like: rope burn, rug burn, carpet burn or friction burn, it hurts.
These wounds are caused by abrasion to the top layer of the skin.
It can be mild like grazes and scrapes or severe, removing several layers of skin and causing skin avulsion.
No matter the severity, anyone who’s ever experienced a rope burn knows how uncomfortable it can be.
This blog examines treatments and prevention methods for rope burn.
How to Treat Rope Burn:
The most common type of rope burn will cover a small area of skin and only cause damage to the surface skin. These types of friction burns will generally heal on their own with time.
Seek medical treatment immediately if the rope burn is deeper than the upper layers of skin and hair or if it’s more than three inches in diameter
More severe abrasion burns can damage the skin deeper, like the sweat glands and hair follicles. Thee types of burns will need more treatment.
Steps for treating rope burn:
- Wash your hands: This limits bacterial spread
- Clean the burned area: Wash it gently with a clean washcloth using warm water and antibacterial soap
- Disinfect the wound: Use iodine, hydrogen peroxide or antiseptic to gaurd against infection
- Apply an antibacterial cream to the injured area: Creams like Neosporin will promote healing and prevent infections
- Cover with gauze or adhesive bandage: Check the burn after 24 hours. If the surface has begun to scab, the burn will heal best if left uncovered. If it has not, continued to apply cream and redress the wound.
Protecting Against Rope Burn:
The key to avoiding a rope burn is protection between your skin and whatever’s causing the friction.
It’s why bikers wear chaps and leather jackets and you should wear the appropriate protection for your application.
In the world of hand protection, wearing worn out work gloves can be just as dangerous as not wearing gloves at all. But how do you choose the best abrasion-resistant gloves?
It starts with testing.
How is Abrasion Tested?
String-knit and palm coated gloves are tested using a Taber machine.
The goal of this wear test is to determine a glove’s performance level based on the amount of revolutions it takes to achieve wear through.
How the Taber Test Works:
- Place the test material (in this case a glove) on a rotating wheel
- Load two grinding wheels onto the machine
- Add weight to the grinding wheels*
- Place the weighted grinding wheels on top of the test material
- Start the machine to begin moving the rotating wheel
- Record the number of revolutions it takes for the grinding wheels to wear through the material
- Rate the glove between performance level 1 and 6 based on the number of rotations
*There are two options for weight: A 500g weight is used for the first 1000 rotations. A 1000g weight is used up to 20,000 rotations.
Should you choose a coated or leather glove for your application?
Coated gloves provide better grip in wet and dry conditions and let your hand move more freely than a leather glove.
But if you’re dealing with high abrasion like pulling ropes, palm coatings may wear down too quickly.
The other concern with coated gloves for applications like belaying is that the glove’s coating will stick to the rope and could cause the rope to gum up in the pulleys.
For lower abrasion applications like using a lug wrench, a coated glove like our TenActiv™ Cut-Resistant Gloves with ZedCoat™ Palms may do the trick. With 13,833 cycles on the Taber machine, this glove knocks out the competition.
Leather gets a bit of a bad wrap .
But when it comes to abrasion resistance, leather is amazing. It will protect your hands, take a beating and will have a longer lifespan than a coated glove. Check out our full list of leather roper gloves here.
The best thing about glove innovation is that you can take the best of both worlds.
Like our Clutch Gear® Goatskin Mechanics Glove. It features nylon backing for freedom of movement and a double leather palm for amazing abrasion resistance.