Sooner or later everyone will experience road rash, it’s a part of cycling, and almost a rite of passage into the cycling world. Road rash is never pleasant and can ruin what should have been a great day out on your bike. How you first handle your wounds will make all the difference in the amount of time it takes to recover. Treating the wounds correctly will save you a lot of pain and suffering if done the right way. Below are a few important tips when dealing with road rash to help make the process less painful and get you back on the road quicker.
Cleaning the Wound
Deciding if a trip to the emergency room is necessary can be a difficult decision, but if you think stitches are needed it’s best to let the professionals take a look. If you think the wound is not as severe and can be handled on your own with a couple trips to the pharmacy, the first step is to properly clean out the wound. Make sure to use clean drinking water and lightly scrub the dirt away. Be gentle with the road rash as the less hard scrubbing you can do the less agitated the wound will become which then can heal quicker. Another tip is to use a water bottle full of cool water and spray the wound out to avoid touching the open wound.
Bandaging the Road Rash
The severity of the road rash will decide what kind of bandages are best. Before bandaging the road rash, apply antibiotic ointment to the wound to decrease the chances of it getting infected. For less severe road rash some gauze and tape is all that is needed to cover the road rash properly. For more severe road rash applying a Tegaderm patch will be your best option. Remember to changes the bandages as needed and to clean up any drainage from the wounds to avoid messing up your clothes and bed sheets.
Keep An Eye Open
Any change in color or swelling in the days after the initial crash could be a sign of infection. If you believe the road rash is infected do not hesitate going to the doctor’s office to have someone take a look. Sometimes no matter how diligent you may be with changing the bandages and applying antibiotic ointment the wound may still get infected. In this case an oral antibiotic and more serious bandaging should take care of the infection.
Avoid the Sun
To reduce the chance of having a lifetime scar, try to avoid the sun or apply a sunscreen to the wound once it is completely closed. Also, moisturizing the wound will help to avoid scaring. There are plenty of anti-scar creams available at the drug store so don’t hesitate picking one up and giving it a try; that is unless you think the scars are a sign of toughness. One of the more obvious tips to avoid scarring is to not pick at the scab, although it’s tempting. It is one of the worst things possible for your road rash. This can reopen the wound to bacteria and will greatly increase the chance of scaring and infection.
Common Myths About Road Rash
There are several myths out there about how to handle road rash, such as letting the wound air out and that alcohol will properly disinfect the wound. Letting your road rash air out is only exposing the wound to more bacteria and increasing the chances of infection. The open air is only delaying the healing process. Keeping the wound covered is a much better choice. According to WebMD, “Using hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to clean an injury can actually harm the tissue and delay healing. The best way to clean a minor wound is with cool running water and mild soap. Rinse the wound for at least five minutes to remove dirt, debris, and bacteria”. Many people do not know this about rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, but remember to stick with just clean water when dealing with road rash.
Hopefully the tips in this article never have to be used, but more than likely, they will. Now at least you will be prepared when dealing with road rash. If crashing is a common thing for you, a first aid kit stocked with all the necessary treatment options may be a wise investment. Also, always remember to wear your helmet, road rash can easily heal but your brain is a bit more fragile!