If you or someone you love has suffered road rash after an accident, you are not alone. Scores of people across the United States face road rash every year, oftentimes as a consequence of motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents.
Anybody can experience road rash during an accident, even if you’re in a vehicle. Some people are thrown from their vehicles and suffer road rash. Other people may only suffer road rash on small parts of their bodies that became exposed to the road during an accident.
What Is Road Rash?
The key to understanding (and treating) road rash is knowing what it is. Road rash is skin damage that occurs due to contact with pavement or concrete. Usually, when someone mentions road rash, they’re talking about an instance where a person’s skin has started to redden and bleed due to contact with the road.
Traumatic friction with the road’s surface is responsible for causing road rash. Oftentimes, road rash causes layers of a person’s skin to grind away. Road rash injuries are more common in hot seasons; people are less likely to wear protective clothing, and they’re more likely to be out on the road.
Treating Road Rash After a Motorcycle Accident
Read on for information on how to treat road rash from a motorcycle accident. If you suffer serious road rash injuries, you should seek a medical professional.
Wash Your Hands Thoroughly, and Then Apply Water to the Wound
You need to wash your hands before touching the road rash or any other injuries. It’s very important to have clean hands any time you touch an open wound; if your hands are dirty, you may infect or worsen an injury. Washing your hands helps remove bacteria and debris that can cause additional harm.
After you’ve washed your hands, you need to use water to wash the road rash injury as well. Never scrub over the road rash, as you could make it worse. It’s best to move gently and slowly. Use the softest material you can, and make sure that your cloth or fabric is clean, too. It’s best to clean road rash injuries gradually rather than to rush through the process.
Remove Debris From the Injury Site
Oftentimes, someone who suffers road rash also has debris lodged near the injury site. It’s very common for grass, pebbles, dirt, and other things to get stuck near and in injuries. This helps mitigate agitation to the injury. Removing debris also helps keep injuries clean and helps prevent infection.
Apply Antibiotic Ointment to the Road Rash
It’s important to apply an antibiotic ointment to road rash injuries once you’ve washed them. These ointments remove bacteria in and near the injury. As with cleaning, you should gently apply the ointment.
Cover the Road Rash
You should prevent anything from coming into contact with the road rash injury. Covering road rash will also help it heal and prevent infection.
Use a bandage or gauze to cover the road rash; this keeps bacteria from entering the injury.
Replace the Road Rash Covering Every Day
Whether you use gauze or a bandage to cover the road rash, it’s important to replace the covering every day (roughly). Immediately replace the covering if it is dirty or wet.
Monitor the Road Rash Closely for Infections
If road rash does become infected, it can prove dangerous. It’s important to actively prevent infection by taking steps to monitor for warning signs. Check road rash regularly after the initial injury to ensure there’s no sign of infection.
There Are Three Common Types of Road Rash
Most of the time, doctors will categorize instances of road rash in three ways.
These three types of road rash are the most common, and remember, a person can suffer more than one type of road rash after just one accident.
- Avulsion: Avulsion is the reason that skin scrapes away when someone experiences road rash. Avulsion may lead to things beneath the skin being exposed (like fat, muscle, or even bone).
- Compression: Compression occurs when part of a vehicle (or another large object) crushes part (or parts) of someone’s body; compression may lead to broken bones and muscle damage.
- Open wounds: Road rash can cause open wounds; when it does, open wounds may require stitches or even grafts in very severe cases.
The Degrees of Road Rash
Road rash is also categorized by degrees. Which degree of road rash a person experiences directly impacts how to treat the injury. First-degree road rash is the most minor form of road rash. Someone who suffers first-degree road rash may experience scrapes, bruises, redness, minor bleeding, and pain. First-degree road rash is usually treatable at home, once you’ve visited a doctor, and he or she has categorized your road rash as first-degree.
Second-degree road rash is more severe than its first-degree counterpart. Second-degree road rash puts a person’s muscles, nerves, and tendons at more risk. Some people experience swelling, and scarring is common afterward.
Third-degree road rash is the most severe type of road rash. It is very easy for an infection to occur at the site of third-degree road rash, so prompt medical attention and appropriate sanitation measures are important.
Someone with third-degree road rash may suffer:
- Flared skin
- Deep wounds
- Muscle abrasions
- Bone damage
- Tendon and nerve damage
- Extreme bleeding
Common Causes of Road Rash
Some certain accidents and behaviors make road rash more common.
If you can avoid (or take extra precautions during) these activities, it might help keep you safe.
- Rear-end accidents: Rear-end accidents are some of the most damaging; even a low-speed rear-end accident may cause road rash. This is especially true if somebody is on a motorcycle. Just one tap to the rear of the motorcycle could send the person skidding onto the road.
- No seat belt: When drivers don’t wear seat belts, they put themselves at risk of ejection during an accident, resulting in road rash.
- Taking curves too fast: Bicyclists and motorcyclists who take curves too quickly are very likely to fall; and anytime someone falls onto the road, he or she may sustain road rash.