Treadmill Friction Burn

Ever had a parenting emergency, googled… and were left to believe your kid may be dying or some unknown virus requiring years of treatments and possibly therapy? Ya… me neither. 😉 Google is a parents worst nightmare and yet, the best resource imaginable.

On our recent Colorado trip, Jonah got his left hand caught in the bottom of a hotel treadmill. It was my worst nightmare. Fear, panic, cold sweats. I felt totally incapable of being his mom.

I don’t panic often.  My nursing education typically roots me–makes me believe that physical issues are fixable and repairable. Yet, I’ve learned, that when its my baby (with open tissue and screams that evade sound) I loose all rooting. I panic.

Thank God for Josh, for a man that steps up to the plate and finds unknown strength in necessary times. Josh handled us all. He  kept us moving from step to step and encouraged Jonah through his fear.

Upon initial assessment, the backs of Jonah’s fingers (pointer, middle ring) were severly bruised. I immediately grabbed the cold, purified water in the gym room and dunked his fingers, not realizing that the real issue was on the other side of his hand. When Jonah pulled his hand out of the water and turned his hand over, we both gasped. All I could do was say the name of Jesus. The pads of Jonah’s middle and ring finger were ripped open, gapping holes, burns that made my bones ache.


We rushed back to our hotel room, Jonah screaming and sobbing, me crying and racking my brain for solutions (but coming up empty-handed). Josh immediately reminded me that although I had nothing first aid comparable, I did have Resinol in my diaper bag. We grabbed ice from the room freezer, doused the wound in Resinol, and gave Motrin. And then, we prayed. Prayed for the pain to stop, prayed for wisdom and prayed for supernatural strength for our strong little man.

Jonah cried for a long time. We just held him and prayed. I ached to take the terrible pain of the burn, knowing the pain is not easily cured.

When he had gathered his reserve, we bandaged the fingers in gauze and bandaids from the front desk and took a few pictures to send to our doctor. We were headed to Colorado Springs and agreed that we would wait for our doctors advice before pursing further medical treatment.

And that’s where Google comes in. I googled friction burns and treadmill accidents and partial thickness burns. I was determined to be an active parent, even if we were out of our element. I didn’t want to miss anything in making sure my four-year-old healed quickly and appropriately. Well, Google gave me everything I didn’t want to see. Broken bones, major antibiotics, skin grafting, physical therapy, even amputation. Oh Jesus. My head was literally spinning, I had to roll the windows down, let the tears tears flow and trust Jesus. Josh looked at me and whispered, “Look at Jonah. He’s laughing, he isn’t in pain. You can’t take on more pain than he has. We’re going to be okay.”


That evening, our doctor called. He gave me clear directions on how clean and dress the wound with antibiotic ointments and nonstick bandaids. He said to keep the wound clean and it would all heal.

Deep breath. Thank God for a good doctor and for assurance.

We picked up all kinds of bandages and Polysporin at Walgreens. We used Polysporin because it was the most expensive antibiotic option. Maybe silly, but when I looked at Jonah’s wound, I had no desire to be thrifty.

Over the next couple days, we kept Jonah’s fingers covered in Polysporin. We applied non-stick wound pads over the fingers and then used the large bandaids to wrap the two fingers together. Bandages were changed twice a day. We used medical tape to cover any gaps or openings when we went hiking or exploring.

Jonah was AMAZING, he still wanted to climb rocks and play on jungle gyms. He kept his fingers protected, but still used his left thumb to grip. He never complained of pain after the initial incident.

I write this all out for others. For those that google and don’t find hope. Here. This is your hope. We never actually saw the doctor. I sent our doctor pictures on Day 3 and Day 12, just to be sure healing was on point. He replied, “Keep doing what you’re doing.”

Around day 10, when open tissue had closed, we started having Jonah leave the bandaids off for some periods of time. This made him super nervous, so we started with just a 30min TV show and his hand on a designated towel, then progressed to a couple hours here and there. On day 12, he slept without a bandaid for the first time. This really sped up the healing. On day 16, we finally stopped using bandaids all together. The ring finger skin had healed, pealed, scabbed and regrown. The middle finger just has a deep scab left.

And finally, one month later, all the skin is healed and Jonah is using and bending all his fingers. He shows no residual side effects.


There were times I doubted the healing progress. It was slow, we went through LOTS of bandaids. We really worked on making sure the new skin was bending, stretching and growing. But, here we stand one month later with our Jonah and his two “new” fingers. 🙂

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