Friction Burns such as this, are caused by a rubbing action between two surfaces. One being more abrasive than the other, in this case a rope. This injury was caused during a wake board session. The casualty held one end of the rope and the other end was attached to the speedboat. During this time the casualty shortened the rope he was holding, and proceeded to wrap the access around his forearm. As a result the damage occurred when both friction occured and the rope tighten. There was a high probability that the casualty may lose his arm, however, he was lucky and with skin grafts, surgery and physio he is well on his way to recovery.
What is a Friction Burn?
Where skin rubs against a surface resulting in friction and is a form of an abrasion. Other terminologies that describe a friction burn are skinning, chafing or a term named for the surface causing the burn such as rope burn, carpet burn or rug burn. Due to the heat being generated as a result of the friction the extreme may cause the outer layers of the skin to break down.
The second layer may be exposed after top layers of the dermis 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. We recognise more common abrasive surfaces such as clothing, carpet, or ROPE, all of which will or 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.
The risks of a friction burn include infection and temporary or permanent scarring.
Incidents relating to burns during water activities
• wrapping ropes around the arms, chest or abdomen to give extra assistance in shortening, pulling or holding station
• letting the ropes slide though your hands instead of feeding it through
Most minor cases of friction burn require little to no treatment; as a specific case of allergy might aggravate the symptoms.
However, if in any doubt always seek medical advice from your GP or local casualty department depending on the severity.