Everywhere you go these days, it seems like fields that were once natural grass are now covered in artificial turf. It makes sense when you think about it– artificial turf is weatherproof, low maintenance, and durable.
Ask any soccer, football, field hockey, or lacrosse player if artificial turf has any downsides, and you'll likely receive a unanimous answer: turf burn.
Also known as strawberry, turf burn is a painful skin abrasion that occurs when there is friction between artificial turf and your skin. If you fall on artificial turf, there's a good chance you'll be dealing with an injury of this type.
What can you do to encourage healing if you're dealing with turf burn? How long will it take to heal? We'll answer these questions and more in this article.
What Is Turf Burn?
There are a lot of reasons why artificial turf can actually help to reduce injuries versus natural grass, but one of the risks of messing around on a lawn made out of synthetic fibers is turf burn.
Turf burn is a type of injury that results from friction. Basically, if you fall or slide against the turf, the friction between your exposed skin and the surface can lead to red abrasions.
Depending on the specifics of the event, this friction can even lead to losing layers of skin. This, in turn, makes it possible for an open wound to develop.
Turf burn can be incredibly painful, creating a stinging sensation when you touch the area.
The most likely places to develop turf burn are your knees, thighs, arms, and palms. Depending on how you fell, it can impact a very small or very large area of skin.
How to Identify Turf Burn
If you're playing soccer, football, or another sport, you're likely more than familiar with the way that bruises can develop when you take a tumble. You might even find that layers of skin get taken off after falling.
Just because some skin is missing after your scrimmage, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're dealing with turf burn. Turf burn specifically refers to a type of injury that occurs when there is friction between your skin and artificial turf.
You can identify turf burn from a number of factors beyond your knowledge that you scraped your skin against astroturf. Firstly, the sore will be distinctly raspberry colored, and secondly, the area typically appears raw and can even bleed a little bit.
Another thing distinguishing turf burn from other scrapes and scratches you receive is how long the pain lasts. The pain might go away for many minor injuries after a few hours or days. Unfortunately, the pain can be seriously intense with turf burn and lasts until the abrasion heals– usually one to two weeks.
How Do You Treat Turf Burn?
Turf burn doesn't necessarily require you to head to the doctor's office. That being said, you want to ensure your burn doesn't end up getting infected.
Treating your turf burn right away is thought to help reduce the risk of infection, so you don't want to delay when you realize that you've been burned by astroturf. Beyond that, people who play sports commonly have a higher risk of skin infections than people who don't, and transmission of these infections is more likely because of using shared equipment and increased physical contact with others.
If your skin breaks, you run the risk of bacteria entering your body and leading to an infection. For instance, everyone carries Staphylococcus aureus on their skin, and touching the burn with your bare hands could lead to a staph infection.
Immediately after receiving a turf burn, you'll want to take the following steps:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and, if possible, wear sterile gloves before cleaning the wound.
- Hold a clean dressing or bandage against the burn firmly until the bleeding stops.
- Use water and mild soap or saline solution to clean any dirt, grit, or sand out of the wound– removing any debris will help reduce the risk of infection, so it's important to do this even if it's painful to do so.
- Use a clean cloth to pat the wound dry.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment or aloe vera to help prevent infection if it isn't too painful to do so– if it is, cover the clean, dry wound.
- Place a non-adhesive wound dressing over the wound and cover it with a breathable cotton bandage to hold the dressing in place.
If you're an active guy, turf burn probably isn't the only type of skin issue you've dealt with. One of the things that plague tons of men is the chafed skin that emerges on leg day. If you're sick of dealing with uncomfortable rashes when you're just trying to get those squat reps in, check out our post about how to stop chafing on leg day.
At-Home Healing Tips from Turf Burn
Having turf burn is seriously not fun. Luckily, you can do several things to help alleviate your discomfort and help ensure that you don't develop an infection.
If you can, it's best to wait to start playing on astroturf again until the sore has healed. While this can be a big bummer, heading out onto the field again too soon can mean that you end up reinjuring the area and making your recovery take even longer.
One of the things you'll want to do at home is to make sure you keep the injured area clean and protected. Keep an eye on it– especially when the wound is new– to make sure that you don't see any early signs of an infection. If you do end up getting an infection, you'll want to head to the doctor for a prescription oral antibiotic or antibacterial ointment.
Here are some of the things you'll want to do to help your turf burn heal:
- Keep the wound clean and dry
- Make sure the sore stays free of debris and dust
- Always wash your hands before you dress or touch your wound
- Use a wound dressing under the bandage
- Change the dressing every day
- Use an antibiotic ointment, antiseptic cream, or aloe vera gel before when changing the dressing
If you don't have an antibacterial ointment or you'd prefer not to use one, aloe vera gel can be a good alternative. A natural antiseptic, aloe vera helps provide an extra barrier to bacteria and helps to cool the skin. There is even some research that suggests that aloe vera has properties that can help wounds heal.
Aloe vera is one of the natural products we use at Chassis in our line of men's body care products. You can find out more about the premium ingredients we use in our products in our under-the-hood section.
How to Prevent Turf Burn
Preventing turf burn isn't the easiest thing in the world– if you're playing sports or otherwise messing around on artificial turf, there is always a risk. That being said, there are a few things you can do to give yourself some extra protection.
One thing you can do is wear clothes that help protect your skin from exposure to artificial turf– long socks, spandex shorts, long sleeve shirts, etc. If you're playing soccer or another sport that makes you prone to leg injuries, shin pads with long socks can also help out.
Of course, if you're just messing around with your buddies, you might opt for a field of natural grass rather than artificial grass. While there have been some studies that show that astroturf can reduce injuries, there are others that actually say that natural grass is a better playing field material to avoid getting hurt.
According to one study from the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, artificial turf surfaces are actually connected with more ankle and knee injuries than grass and dirt. The reason is thought to be that grass has more give and doesn't put as much torque on your foot, ankle, and knee.
Other Skin Conditions Active Men Should Know About
While turf burn is an incredibly painful and frustratingly slow-healing skin problem you can get from tussling around on astroturf, it isn't the only condition you have to worry about as a physically active guy.
Even if you're working out at a clean, fancy schmancy gym, fungi and bacteria can still thrive on workout equipment. It's particularly important to be aware of these infection-causing microbes if you are dealing with an injury like turf burn, as you become much more susceptible to developing an infection with an open wound.
Ringworm can show up anywhere on your body but is most likely to rear its ugly head on your thighs, upper arms, or torso. This fungal infection leads to a red ring forming on the surface of your skin that is itchy and scaly.
The fungus that causes ringworm is happiest and healthiest in warm, wet environments. For this reason, you'll want to keep your eye out for sweaty gym equipment and make sure you wipe down any machines that seem to be dripping with the sweat of another.
Caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), plantar warts show up as a callus-like spot on the sole, ball, or heel of your foot. Though HPV causes these warts, it's perhaps at least somewhat comforting that plantar warts are caused by a different strain than the one that leads to genital warts.
Plantar warts can be painful to walk on and generally unpleasant. For this reason, you'll want to ensure you keep your feet covered with sandals or sneakers at all times at the gym– both out on the floor and in the locker room.
Swimmers beware– folliculitis is a type of bacterial or fungal infection that is linked to using hot tubs and swimming pools. This infection takes a peculiar form– entering your hair follicles and leading to inflammation. If you notice bumps, rashes, or pus-filled pimples on the hairy areas of your legs or arms, it might be folliculitis.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't swim in your gym's pool, but it does mean you want to be extra careful if your skin is irritated or extra dry.
Bacterial growth can be encouraged when there is damage to your skin, and the staphylococcus bacteria is never far away (it lives on our skin and in our noses.) If you're dealing with a turf burn, a staph infection should be one of your major concerns.
Whether you have turf burn or another type of open wound, make sure you keep it covered if you're heading to a gym to work out.
You've likely heard of athlete's foot, but you might not realize that it refers to the same type of fungus that gives you jock itch. Whether it shows up on your feet, armpits, or groin, this is something that you'd definitely prefer to avoid.
If you're dealing with jock itch, it can mean you're dealing with persistent itching, redness, a burning sensation, and a rash that gets worse with exercise or activity. At the same time, this is only one of the many conditions that can lead to ball and groin irritation. Check out our recent post covering eight common reasons your balls are irritated to help you figure out what's going on below the belt and how to solve the problem.
Staying Cool and Dry Through the Toughest Workouts
Many things are out of your control when you're an active guy– whether your game is played on artificial turf or natural grass or whether other people at your gym wipe down equipment adequately (or at all), to name just a few. One thing that is in your control, though, is whether you spend your workout session in a stinky pool of your own sweat or whether you find a solution that helps you stay cool and dry.
We might not be able to get that annoying guy at your gym to stop talking on his phone, but we can offer you the absolute best solution to your sweat, odor, and chafe issues.
Our men's body powder is specifically designed to fight sweat, odor, and chafing all day using only premium, natural ingredients. Available in our original formula, an unscented formula, and our Ice and Ice Max that offer different levels of cooling technology, Chassis body powder is the answer you've been looking for.