Thursday, July 19, 2012

This is going to hurt!

  If any of you have been following this year's Tour de France, you have likely witnessed some spectacular crashes.  Even if you are not a pro cyclist, many have you have probably fallen off of your bike at some point and the result is quite painful.  Road rash, road burn or gravel rash are all names for what is quite simply your skin moving along a rough surface (usually at high speeds), most commonly, the road.  Road rash is probably the most common injury from cycling. Although it's usually not serious, if you don't know how to treat it correctly it can leave you in a lot of pain.

Road rash is classified very similarly to a regular burn in that there are varying degrees of severity.
  • First Degree: No skin is removed, redness, and no bleeding
  • Second Degree: Outer layers of skin are removed, light bleeding
  • Third Degree: A lot of skin is removed, loose skin, may be heavy bleeding, it is recommended that this type of injury gets immediate medical attention
Steps to treating road rash:
  • Keep it clean.  Once you have assessed the damage and ensured that you are not injured any where else, clean out all of the gravel, dirt, and grit with a mild antiseptic soap
  • Reassess the damage, if there are any other deeper cuts, seek medical attention
  • Treat with an antiseptic ointment and a breathable bandage
  • It's worth noting that your injury will heal faster if kept moist, clean and covered
  • Change dressings regularly, this means cleaning and disinfecting each time
  • Depending on the severity of the injury, it could take any where from one to two weeks to heal
  • Once bandage is removed and the healing is well on it's way, be sure to protect the sensitive new skin from the sun
If you have any pain, or you suspect your injury is not healing well, don't be afraid to get a doctor to take a look at it.  They will able to give you some advice and maybe prescribe some medication to fight or prevent infection.

Accidents do happen but if you wear gloves, a base layer and of course a helmet it will definitely help.  It's likely that you will be unable to avoid road rash at some point but you can minimize the damage by planning ahead.

References from the SIRC Collection

1. It's going to hurt. Australian Cyclist. March 2009;34(2):70-71.
2. Favreaux J, Bikoff D. Hitting the road: proper care of road rash means ignoring Mom's advice. Velonews. May 25, 1998;27(9):42;44.
3. Hargett J. Ride a safe bike: a checklist for road-rash avoidance. Triathlete. September 1990;(82):30;32;79.
4. Legwold G. Road rash. Keeping road rash moist helps prevent painful scabbing and may promote faster healing. Bicycle Guide. July 1990;7(6):24;26-27.
5. McQUAID M. How to Treat Road Rash. Triathlete. September 2011;(330):80.

No comments: