When you’re pushing the speed limit on your motorcycle with the wind on your face, there’s no better feeling in the world. The last thing you want to think about is what might happen if you are thrown from the vehicle and your exposed skin makes contact with the asphalt at those speeds.
Still, every rider knows that motorcycle accidents are a potential risk, no matter how safely you drive. If you plan to keep riding, it is wise to learn more about those risks so that you’re prepared in a worst-case scenario.
In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about one of the most common motorcycle injuries: road rash. Keep reading to learn eight surprising facts about this common type of wound.
1. There Are Three Types of Road Rash
Road rash happens whenever you scrape your skin against a rough surface. For motorcycle riders, this most commonly occurs on the pavement. Although all road rash cases are relatively similar, the wound can take three forms:
- An avulsion (a skin scrape or tear)
- An open wound
- A compression (a crushing injury caused when the body is caught between two objects, such as the motorcycle and pavement)
2. Road Rash Is Categorized by Degrees
Similar to the severity of a burn, the severity of a road rash injury is categorized by degrees. First-degree road rash is generally mild, second-degree road rash is more serious but still at low risk of complication, and third-degree road rash is the most severe.
With third-degree road rash, the wound may penetrate past the skin and fatty layers of tissue, down to the muscle and bone.
3. You May Not Feel Pain Where the Wound Is Deepest
Deep, third-degree cases of road rash can cause nerve damage. This means that in the deepest part of your wound, you may not feel any pain at all. Of course, in these cases, you should always seek medical attention.
4. Some Road Rash Can Be Treated at Home
Some road rash is mild enough to be treated at home. In those cases, you should wash your hands carefully before touching the wound. Then, wash the injury gently and take care to remove any dirt, pebbles, or glass. From there, you should pat the wound dry, apply an antibiotic ointment, and cover it with a lightweight bandage.
5. Some Road Rash Requires Medical Attention
If the road rash is severe enough, you may require medical attention. Here are a few of the warning signs that indicate you need to visit a doctor:
- Muscle or bone is visible.
- The bleeding won’t stop.
- The wound is in an especially vulnerable area, like your hands, feet, or genitals.
- The wound is larger than three palm prints.
Even if you only experience one of these symptoms, call your doctor right away.
6. With Road Rash, You Are at Risk of Infection
Another sign that you need medical attention is any hint of an infection. Staphylococcus bacteria is a naturally occurring substance on the surface of your skin. When your skin is broken, there is an immediate risk of infection. You could also be at risk of a tetanus infection or necrotizing fasciitis.
If you notice any swelling, warmth, or pus coming from the wound, it’s time to seek medical care. Likewise, flu symptoms can indicate that you are developing an infection.
7. Road Rash Can Cause Permanent Scarring
Medical attention will also reduce your risk of permanent scarring. However, it’s not always possible to avoid, especially in cases of third-degree road rash.
8. You Can Protect Yourself from Road Rash
To better protect yourself against road rash, always wear protective gear. Long sleeves, long pants, motorcycle gloves, and a helmet are a great start. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends wearing leather or heavy denim to better protect your extremities.