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Turf burn: Treatment, prevention, and pictures

In some ways, turf may be safer than grass. For example, it provides more cushioning than grass during winter.

However, turf burn is a significant downside of playing on this surface. A fall onto the turf is likely to result in injury.

Sports that people commonly play on turf include football, soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey.

What is turf burn?

Turf burn is an injury that results from friction rather than heat. When people fall hard on the turf, the friction of the turf against their exposed skin causes red abrasions.

Friction can lead to the loss of skin layers, potentially allowing an open wound to develop. Turf burn is very painful, and touching the burn is likely to sting.

Turf burn is more likely to occur on the thighs, knees, palms of the hands, and the arms. It can be large or small, depending on the fall.


Preventing turf burns is not easy. Each time the players fall onto the artificial turf, they risk getting new turf burns.

To avoid turf burns, people can wear protective clothing that does not expose too much skin, such as long sleeve shirts, spandex shorts, and long socks.

Shin pads can offer additional protection, particularly for sports that make a person prone to leg injuries, such as soccer and field hockey. Wearing long socks over the shin pads can further protect the legs from turf burns.

Some studies suggest using sliding pads or sticky bandages to form a barrier between the skin and the turf.

When to see a doctor

If the turf burn becomes infected, it is essential to visit the doctor immediately. Without proper treatment, an infection can spread to other parts of the body, putting the person’s overall health at risk.

There is also the risk that bacteria, such as staph, may spread to other players.

The signs and symptoms of an infection include:

  • increased skin redness
  • swelling
  • pain
  • blisters
  • fever
  • oozing pus

A turf burn may take a few weeks to heal, but it will not usually leave a scar.

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