A motorcycle accident can be very traumatic, and if you have ever been in one, you know that it can often lead to some pretty serious injuries. Possibly the most common injury that results from motorcycle accidents, even minor ones, is road rash. Even the name sounds painful, and it is! Road rash can be minor and only cause discomfort for a few weeks, or it can be very severe and cause long-term pain and scarring.
What Is Road Rash?
Road rash is defined as any injury where your skin has been rubbed off or scraped off by contact with an object such as pavement, asphalt, gravel or sandpaper. It typically leaves behind painful open wounds on the skin which are prone to infection. The severity of road rash depends on how severely you fell, and, just like burns, can be categorized by degrees. The degrees for severity of road rash are as follows:
- First degree: Most minor type of road rash. The person may have red, tender skin with slight bruising and light bleeding that can probably be treated at home with antibacterial ointment and bandages to cover the wound while it heals
- Second degree: Second degree road rash will be more severe in bleeding and bruising, and will probably also swell. The skin will be more scraped and opened than in a first degree road rash. The wound may radiate heat, and may also show exposed muscle, tendons, or nerves. A second degree road rash will also probably scar and may be at a higher risk for infection, so medical attention may be necessary and helpful.
- Third degree: This is the worst degree road rash you could get. Usually, the skin is severely sheared off with significant bleeding and swelling. The wound may also have a shiny, whitish, milky appearance. Muscles, tendons, or nerves can be exposed, as well as even bone. Do not touch a third degree road rash yourself and seek medical attention right away.
Treatment for Road Rash & When to Seek Medical Attention
Treating a first degree road rash is fairly simple and easy, and usually done at home. Your priority is to keep the wound clean and use antibiotic ointment. Cover the wound to avoid exposing it to any unnecessary bacteria, and change your covering at least twice a day. Second degree and third degree burns require more attention and treatment. These types of road rashes should usually get medical attention first, before you start caring and treating your wound at home.
After seeing a doctor, they may prescribe antibiotics for you to take in addition to using an ointment. You will also have to treat your wound at home by cleaning it gently with warm water and using antibiotics and bandages to cover the wound. For severe injuries, your doctor may ask you to come back and check in with them so they can monitor your healing.
How Long Does Road Rash Take To Heal?
Road rash heals differently based on the severity of the wound and how well you treat the wound. A first degree road rash will typically heal in about two weeks as long as the wound is covered and at least mildly treated to avoid infection. A second or third degree road rash will probably take longer than two weeks to heal. A second degree road rash might take over a month to comfortably heal. The most severe type, a third degree road rash, can cause pain for many months after the accident, and may not comfortably heal for some time. This one definitely requires medical treatment and attention if you want the wound to heal the best it can.