Ever walk around looking as if you’ve been recently garroted? Perhaps you saw the diver at your LDS looking as if they had more problems going on than filling an empty scuba cylinder.
We’re talking of course about neckseal ‘friction’ burns. These can range from a slight irritation to a full-blown ring of red, raw injured skin on the neck. And being completely truthful can hurt… a lot.
The neck itself provides a perfect location for this burn to occur. The skin on the front of the neck is particularly soft and delicate. Drysuit seal friction burns occur to both men and women so shaving, not shaving or never needing to shave this area seems to make no difference. Thankfully the wrists have tougher skin and seal burn does not occur here.
Just like the name describes, water gets in between the seal and the neck. Movement of the neck and head causes friction on the skin which in turn causes the injury. Dive multiple times before healing can occur and this will compound the burn/injury.
According to DUI’s Bob Stinton, VP Engineering, a quick and easy measure any diver can take is to add a thin coating of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on the neck in the affected areas. This provides a ‘barrier’ between the seal and the neck. Bob always adds a bit more after donning the seal. Using his finger tip he applies a layer of petroleum jelly around the sealing surface between the seal and the skin, with extra in where he experiences the most rubbing. Repeat before each dive even if you did not remove your neck seal and you should notice an appreciable difference. Divers have also reported success with Bag Balm, Udder Balm, Glide and similar products. If you’re really in a pinch try using the DUI ZipStick. Do not use ‘water soluble products as these will wash away during your dive. Bob also notes razor stubble for guys is also a contributor to friction burns and may need an extra layer.
Will petroleum jelly hurt the seal? Again, information from Bob Stinton on seals in testing at the DUI factory, we have noticed no difference in seals that have been exposed to petroleum jelly versus those that have not. So go ahead and grease up.
It’s OK. It makes for a great conversation starter and will get you odd looks from family and friends. Treat it like any injury and provide the proper first aid. Keep it clean and you could also apply antibiotic ointment to help promote healing.
Yes – you can minimize or prevent drysuit friction burns.