How to Treat a Really Bad Rope Burn

Rope burn is caused when rope runs across your skin quickly, resulting in redness, blisters and in some cases bleeding. You can get rope burn from any activity involving the use of rope, such as rock climbing, roping horses, boating or rope climbing. Treating a bad rope burn requires attentive care in order to prevent infection and pain and to ensure healing comes quickly 1.

Rinse the burned area with cool water and gently remove any pieces of rope fibers or dirt from the burn with your fingertips or some tweezers.

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Examine the area for signs that you need immediate medical attention. If the wound is bleeding excessively, burned skin is purple or blacken, is deep enough for you to see underlying bones or you need to see a doctor. Also seek medical attention if you are in extreme pain. Rope burns are painful, but if pain inhibits your ability to move or continue with daily activity the burn needs medical care.

Wash the area with some mild soap and cool water. Be gentle with the delicate healing skin and do not rub or pat dry. Allow the skin to air for five minutes.

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Pat a layer of antibiotic burn gel over the entire burn and skin around the burn. Antibiotic gel made specifically for burns contains ingredients designed to cool burns and help relieve pain associated with them.

Wrap or cover the burn with sterile gauze and use cloth gauze tape to hold in place. Make sure tape does not touch the burned area or immediate outlying skin, as you don’t want to risk further irritating the afflicted area.

Take an over-the-counter pain medication for up to five days following the injury as needed. Read and follow the directions that accompany medication for dosage and frequency. Talk to your pharmacist for recommendations on pain medication.

Repeat steps three through five daily until burned skin heals over.


To prevent infection always re-dress the burned area with new and sterile bandages and never re-use bandages.

If you begin to experience extreme pain or notice signs of infection such as a white discharge from the burn or more serious signs like a fever and vomiting, head to a medical care professional immediately.

Discontinue the use of pain medication after five days. If the burn is so painful that it requires pain medication after this time see a doctor, as the injury could be a more serious than it looks or be infected.