You might be the most careful rider in the world, but if it happens, it happens. Getting into an accident is not a painless experience. Aside from the pain of damaging your bike, physical injuries are almost always a part of the crash.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get a bruise here and there, but among the minor scrapes road rash is by far the worst. So here’s how to get that sorted from first aid, all the way to the healing process.
What is road rash?
Asphalt is rough and wears away at tires over a long or short period of time depending on the speed that you travel, and if you’re a fan of doing burnouts, your tires won’t be too happy.
The same can be said for your skin. If you go over a rough surface like asphalt fast enough and long enough, or fast enough over a short period of time, then expect it to wear like a hot knife through butter. Tires are more durable than skin over asphalt, which allows them to go long distances without wearing out. Human skin, however, is not so lucky.
Road rash can be either shallow and annoying or deep and require skin grafting. When the skin comes into contact with a rough surface like the road, the upper layers of the skin will be worn away, or the lower layers could also be affected should you be sliding fast enough over the road.
How to prevent road rash?
Prevention is the best cure as many doctors would say, so make sure you’re riding safe and defensively on the road to avoid accidents altogether. Still, it pays to be prepared. Make sure to equip yourself with the right riding jackets, pants, footwear, gloves, and helmet to protect you from road rash and also impacts. The bare minimum for much slower bikes would be to cover every inch of your skin possible. Even a slow crash can wear a hole through jeans, T-shirts, and shoes, so it is advisable to invest in proper safety gear.
Can road rash be serious?
In some cases, road rash can be a quite serious injury that may require the expertise of a doctor to heal properly. If a wound happens to go over a large surface area, roughly three times the size of your palm, you need to seek professional help.
If you’ve developed road rash on your face, hands, feet, or genitals, you may want to seek out a doctor.
If there are foreign objects are lodged inside the wound, a medical professional may need to take out the contaminants to prevent further complications.
Excessive bleeding can also be a sign that your accident ruptured a vein, Following that, if you can visibly see muscle or bone, then you definitely need to seek professional medical help.
Also, during the healing process consult a doctor if you spot any signs of infection.
However, if none of these apply to you, you can dress the wound yourself and conduct the healing stage with the right materials.
The first response
After a bit of a slide, you might not feel the pain of the injury just yet, given that adrenalin is pumping through your veins. As such, it is important to get yourself out of harm’s way and then check your body for any cuts, scrapes, or bruises.
If you’ve been involved in an accident with another rider, check to see if the other party is safe, take photos, exchange insurance information, and then move your and your vehicles to the side of the road.
First aid for minor road rash
After you’ve ascertained that you do have a minor road rash, it’s now time to treat it. If you’re always prepared and have a first aid kit on hand, you want to take out these items:
- Antiseptic (Povidone Iodine, Hydrogen Peroxide, or Isopropyl Alcohol)
- Cotton balls, pads, or buds, or a clean tissue paper
- Scissors or blade
- Gauze and medical tape (for larger scrapes)
Before anything, you need to make sure your hands are clean. Take some of your antiseptic substance and disinfect your hands before performing any sort of treatment. Take note, however, that Povidone Iodine will stain your hands, so either alcohol or hydrogen peroxide is advisable.
- You need to clean the would by removing and dirt and debris. Use a clean piece of cotton or tissue paper in order to remove foreign contaminants.
- Following that, take your antiseptic solution and a clean application medium such as a cotton ball in order to generously apply the disinfectant to the affected area. If no cotton balls are available, you may opt to pour controlled amounts of antiseptic on the affected area.
- To apply medical gauze, you need to unroll the gauze and fold so it develops at least three to four layers of thickness. Be sure to cut the gauze to the size of the wound. Then, place it over the affected area. You may either wrap it around or apply it over just the affected area.
- To secure the gauze, take your medical tape and use it on the outer edges of the gauze, with at least one piece of tape on every side of the gauze. You may use more if the dressing needs to be doubly secure.
- Following this procedure, you may want to take a tetanus shot just in case to prevent a tetanus infection.
During the healing process, it is important to keep repeating the steps to avoid possible infection. Check your road rash constantly, and be sure to disinfect and dress the wound. To remove the bandage easier, you can run your wound under water to soften the skin or scabbing that will form.
Should you develop complications, you may need to visit a doctor in order to get prescribed a more advanced treatment.
The problem with road rash is that it’ll hurt while it is healing, especially if it is located near a joint, or if it comes into contact with water or clothing. Make sure to dress the wound and brace yourself everytime you apply antiseptic and redress your wound. After a few weeks, your wound should heal.