One of the many health concerns connected with synthetic turf is its tendency to cause serious ‘turf burns’. Prevention & prompt treatment of these burns can prevent dangerous infections and scarring.
First-Aid Treatment for Turf Burns (If possible, first aid should be provided by a person with training on dealing with turf burns.)
- Use sterile gauze to stop initial bleeding.
- Flood the abrasion with water or saline solution and gently rinse to remove any particles that may be in the damaged skin. Avoid peroxide, alcohol, or iodine, because these can cause further damage to the skin.
- Use a hydrogel — preferably an organic product — to keep the wound moist, reduce pain, and shorten healing time.
- To reduce scarring and limit the chance of infection, cover the wound with a bandage or dressing that will keep it from drying out.
- Change the dressing every day or two until the abrasion is healed, usually about a week.
- IMPORTANT: If the abrasion is not healing or shows any signs of becoming infected, see a health professional immediately.
Antibiotic-Resistant Infections [MRSA]
Synthetic turf does not cause infections, but turf burns and other minor abrasions open the door for infectious bacteria. (Synthetic turf can become contaminated with bacteria, however, and may need to be disinfected at times.)
One drug-resistant bacterium is methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus [‘MRSA’]. MRSA is not rare, but is dangerous if there is a break in the skin surface, because it can spread to the heart, lungs, or other parts of the body. Turf burns create this type of break and greatly increase the chance of infection. More about MRSA
- What Is Synthetic Turf?
- What Do Athletes Think?
- Health & Safety Concerns
- Turf Burns – First Aid & Treatment
- Antibiotic-Resistant Infections – MRSA
- Environmental Pros & Cons
- Maintenance & Upkeep
- Cost – Natural Turf v. Synthetic
- Play It Safe – Recommendations for Athletes, Parents, and Institutions
- Sources & Links for More Information
- Open Letter to Anyone Considering Synthetic Turf
These pages on Synthetic Turf are based on research and analysis completed in May 2015 by Kendall Garden [Lehigh ’16] and Peter Crownfield. Contact us by email.
[updated 19 May 2015]