What Is Road Rash?
Road rash is a collective term that is used to describe skin and bone injuries caused by abrasions with road surfaces. Abrasions and road rash are very common sports injuries that typically affect cyclists, skateboarders and motorcyclists. When an athlete falls off on the ground, friction damages upper layers of the skin (the epidermis and the dermis). Some abrasions are shallow scrapes that don’t cause a great deal of bleeding; rather they cause severe pain and swelling because of the many nerve endings that are exposed and damaged during the process. However, most abrasions are deep cuts, requiring stitches to heal properly.
Road Rash Treatment
Injuries from road rash that involve minor scratches, redness and swelling can be treated with a combination of thorough cleansing and ice therapy. All the debris is washed from the wound by running water over the area. If the area has swollen, then bandaging can help relieve the symptoms. An application of ice to the affected area will ease the pain and reduce local inflammation. However, minor scrapes should be allowed to scab over and heal at their own pace.
Second-Degree – Road rash which involve damage to the outer layer of the skin should be cleaned thoroughly with a nontoxic surfactant such as 0.9% sodium chloride solution to disinfect the wound and remove any dust and debris. After washing, use clean gauze to scrub the area. Make sure that you don’t scrub vigorously as it can cause more tissue damage and interfere with the healing process. Cover the wound with a semi-permeable dressing and attach the dressing to healthy skin with adhesive tape. Wound coverings that protect the injured area from moisture lower the risk of infection and speed healing. There are numerous products on the market that boost the healing process, and help wounds heal painlessly and without scabbing. Their application on slow-healing wounds and ulcers often produce good results. Abrasions should remain covered for about three weeks during healing to minimize the risk of infection. Protect the road rash area from sunlight to avoid the permanent darkening of the skin. Once your wound is healed, apply moisture creams (free of alcohol) to keep the skin moist and soft.
Third-degree – Road rash injuries that reveal underlying tissue often require skin grafting. Cuts that continue to bleed after 10 minutes of road rash, or cuts that extend deep into the second layer of the skin (the dermis) may require stitches. Pain will lessen as the cut heals. The wound may feel dry, stiff, itchy and tight after removal of the stitches. Application of a moisturizing solution on the healed skin can help relieve those symptoms. Wash your healed wound gently once a day with a quality antibacterial soap.
Athletes can reduce the risks of abrasions and road rash by wearing the appropriate protective equipment such as gloves, full face helmet, protective clothing, protective pads and boots. It makes a good idea for them to have the first aid supplies available so that they can bandage the wound in the event of an emergency.
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