When a collision throws riders from the motorcycle and onto the asphalt or other roadway surface, the abrasive material can cause serious damage to the skin. Motorcyclists can reduce the chances of road rash with proper motorcycle personal protective equipment, such as a helmet that covers the face, riding jacket, appropriate pants, and boots. Unfortunately, however, it’s not always possible to avoid road rash in a bad accident.
Learn the degrees of motorcycle road rash and appropriate treatments at each stage:
- First-degree road rash is the most minor type, but it can still cause significant pain to the injured party. If you have a first-degree road rash, your skin will look red, similar to the appearance of carpet burn or a bad sunburn. The abrasion will not have broken the skin, or you may see minor scrapes. First-degree motorcycle road rash is not a very serious injury, and likely does not need professional medical treatment. However, it is wise to visit a doctor after any type of crash or personal injury.
- Second-degree road rash occurs when the abrasion breaks the skin. When a collision with road materials breaks the skin, debris such as dirt, rocks, and pieces of glass can become lodged in the wound. It is important to receive medical attention to flush this debris away and remove pieces with sterile tweezers. In this degree of injury, the underlying layers of skin will remain intact. However, you will see these layers through your injury. There is a chance of scarring, but proper medical treatment can be effective to reduce the odds of permanent scars. It is possible to receive treatment for second-degree motorcycle road rash over the counter.
- Third-Degree road rash is the most severe and painful type of motorcycle road rash. It results in complete abrasion of all five layers of the skin. You may be able to see fat, tissue, muscle, and/or bone. Your skin may have jagged edges, or you may be spurting blood from your wound. You may have dirt or other material lodged deep into your tissues, requiring professional medical attention. Infection is most likely with a third-degree road rash. This injury requires immediate medical care. An injured victim will have permanent scarring from a third-degree motorcycle road rash.
Road Rash Treatment
Road rash may not be as serious as other potential motorcycle injuries such as traumatic brain damage or spinal cord injury, but it can still be very painful and leave permanent scars. Even “minor” motorcycle accidents can cause road rash. It’s important to obtain proper medical care for this injury, even in the first degree. Injured victims need professional flushing and cleaning to remove debris embedded deep into the abrasions. Otherwise, an infection may occur.
Road rash also requires antibiotic ointment to keep scabs from hardening, cracking, and leaving scars. A medic will then cover the injury loosely with a non-stick bandage, such as gauze. Change the dressing frequently to keep the wound clean and to prevent the bandage from painfully sticking to the area. Keeping the wound clean and bandaged, with antibiotic ointment, can help reduce the chances of permanent scarring.
After any motorcycle accident, move to a safe location and assess your injuries. Always seek medical attention immediately following a crash, regardless of the degree of your road rash. Untreated injuries can lead to infection, worsened scarring, and traumatic tattooing. Traumatic tattooing is a type of scar that can occur due to serious abrasions to the skin. Seeking immediate medical care and following your prescribed treatment plan can also help your case should you need to file a personal injury claim. An injury claim may lead to payment for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and trauma due to permanent scarring.