From a broken collarbone to lower back pain, you can suffer from different types of cycling injuries. Some will require serious medical intervention, while there are also others that you can fix by yourself. One of the perfect examples of the latter is cycling road rash, a type of abrasion.
Road rashes will affect the outermost layer of the skin. While the problem is mostly superficial, you must know how to treat road rash properly. Keep on reading and be prepared to treat abrasions after a bike crash.
What is Road Rash?
A road rash is a colloquial term that refers to skin abrasions or friction burns, which are common among cyclists. It happens when your skin rubs to something rough, such as the road. Also called raspberries or strawberries, this superficial skin injury affects only the outer tissue.
In most cases, it isn’t serious. Road rash pain relief is often possible by simply cleaning the wound and taking medications to prevent infection or manage the pain. In instances when the rash is deep, seek medical attention.
A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Treat Road Rash
In most cases, treating a road rash can be done by yourself. No medical intervention is necessary. Below, we’ll talk about the steps you need to know.
1. Start by Washing Your Hands
Before touching or treating the rash, make sure to start with clean hands. When you are fresh from the site of the crash, your hands will most probably be dirty. Touching the rash will only worsen the problem as dirt on your hands can cause the infection to spread. Wash your hands with water and soap to avoid bacteria from spreading. Do not touch the abrasions when you are wearing dirty MTB gloves.
2. Stop the Bleeding
In case you are on the trail and you cannot wash your hands immediately, your priority is to stop the bleeding. The larger the rash, the more blood will be oozing out of it. The goal is to minimize blood loss, so apply pressure until the bleeding stops. Most rashes will not actively bleed, especially if it isn’t deep.
3. Wash the Wound
Clean the affected area using warm water and mild soap. This is important to get rid of the dirt that may have lodged on the rash. While cleaning the rash, do it in a gentle motion. Avoid applying too much pressure as it can cause more bleeding or increase the damage. Do not use hydrogen peroxide since this is not recommended for cleaning open wounds.
4. Remove Debris
Especially if the accident happens in a dirt trail, chances are, there will be debris on the rash. Washing alone may not be enough to get rid of it. You will need to manually eliminate the debris that might have remained on the skin. The best way to do this is to use tweezers. See to it that the tweezers are clean. Drench the tip in alcohol to be sure.
5. Apply Antibiotic Ointment
For effective road rash pain relief and to prevent the spread of infection, you need to apply antibiotic ointment. This will not take the pain away, but it will prevent further infection that can cause more pain in the future. Apply the ointment carefully with your clean hands, making sure that you do not cause further damage to the rash. You can also use a cotton swab.
6. Cover the Rash
Once you are done cleaning the wound, the next important thing is to have it covered. If the wound is left uncovered, bacteria can get in contact with the open wound. Use a lightweight gauze for covering. Change the cover once or twice a day. Keeping the bandage fresh will also help to make the road rash heal quicker.
7. Remove the Gauze
At some point, you will need to remove the gauze and let the rash air out. This is important to allow full healing of the rash. Watch out for the appearance of a pink skin layer. When the skin is firmer, this is a sign that you can already remove the bandage.
8. Keep the Wound Moist
Aside from using an antibiotic cream, you can also consider applying moisturizing cream, such as petroleum jelly on the affected area. This will keep the rash moist, preventing scars and scabs. This can also promote faster healing of the abrasion.
9. Protect from the Sun
Sun protection is also important in the treatment of road rash. If you have the itch to get back on your mountain bike and hit the trails, make sure to protect the wound. As much as possible, have it covered when you will be exposed to the sun. Minimizing sun exposure can also help since the new skin will be sensitive.
10. Check for Signs of Infections
Learning how to treat road rash does not end in cleaning. You should watch out for signs of infection, which can also be an indication that the wound warrants medical attention. Having pus and drainage could mean bigger problems. If the abrasion stays warm or if the rash grows bigger, these can also be signs that the infection is worsening.
Tips and Tricks to Prevent Road Rash
Prevention is better than cure, even when it comes to road rashes. Before you even think of road rash pain relief, you should first think of how you will not have that problem in the first place. Below are some of the best preventive measures:
- Gear up for your safety. From MTB gloves to knee pads, protect your skin from friction and abrasion. You should also pay attention to the right biking wear. As much as possible, minimize parts of the skin that are exposed without compromising comfort.
- Plan your route. Look for routes with minimal obstructions to minimize the chances of crashing and injuries. If rocks and other obstacles are present, there is a higher chance that you will have severe road rash.
- Know how to fall on a bike. You should use your feet and your arms as anchors in case of an accident. With the presence of mind, you can act swiftly, lessening the likelihood that you will suffer from abrasions.
- Learn other important techniques that will minimize the chances of falling and having abrasions. For instance, knowing how to drift a bike or how to brake efficiently will make every ride better and prevent crashes.
Q: How long does it take road rash to heal?
It takes approximately two weeks for a road rash to heal. Different factors will affect this, such as the extent of the rash and the things that you are doing to speed up healing. Keep the rash clean and moist for it to get better quicker.
Q: Should you let road rash air out?
Yes, you should let your road rash air out. Do this several days after you shower. Airing it out will prevent the rash from being gooey. When the road rash is new, however, you should keep it covered to protect from external elements that can make the problem worse.
Q: Can you shower with road rash?
Yes, you can shower with road rash. A word of warning – it can be painful, especially when the rash is fresh. Taking a shower, however, is a good way to flush and clean the rash. Gently scrub the debris and make sure to use mild soap only when you shower.
Q: Can you put Vaseline on road rash?
Yes, you can put Vaseline on road rash. This is one of the best ways to speed up healing. The regular application of Vaseline as a part of road rash cleaning will help in keeping the affected area moist. This will also reduce scabbing and scarring.
Q: What is the fastest way to heal road rash?
The fastest way to heal road rash is to keep it clean. Wash the affected area once or twice a day and cover the rash when it is new. You should also use an antibiotic ointment to prevent possible infection, especially if the rash is deep.
Q: Why does my road rash hurt so much?
Your road rash can hurt so much if it is too deep, which means that the damage is not only on the superficial layer of the skin. Nerves, rashes, and tendons can be damaged, which can result in extreme pain.
Q: Should I keep road rash moist?
Yes, you should keep the road rash moist. This is a great way to prevent infection and minimize scabbing. Dryness can exacerbate the case of scabbing and this will increase the chances that the rash will leave a huge scar.
Globo Surf Overview
A bike crash is an unfortunate incident that most cyclists will experience at one point. It can result in several problems, and a road rash is one of the most common. You must know how to treat road rash, which requires cleaning, drying, and moisturizing the affected area. Proper treatment is necessary for road rash pain relief and to minimize scarring.