Last year I answered a question on Quora on how I deal with road rash when one has the unfortunate circumstance of falling off their bike.
This is by no means professional medical advice, if there are any questions with your condition, immediately seek professional medical attention. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, this is what I do to deal with road rash.
- If I am at a race or event which is providing EMT staff, that would be my first stop.
- I clean out the wound. Water form my bottle can be useful (as long as it’s water not a sports drink.). If that is not possible, as soon as I get home, I will take a shower and work the soap in. I know it hurts but it’s important to get things cleaned up. Also if there is noticeable gravel in the wound, I try to get it out. Tweezers can be helpful with that. Lukewarm water can be more tolerable. Make no mistake the shower will be quite unpleasant to say the least.
- After the shower I apply an anti-bacterial ointment such as Neosporin to the affected area. I then cover it with a bandage and use tape or netting or something similar to hold it all together. Areas such as the joints, knees/elbows, can be difficult, but taking my time I try to find the best possible bandage layup. Having someone, a significant other for example, to help with the process in hard to reach areas can be very helpful.
- After a day or so of anti-bacterial ointment, I switch to petroleum jelly (aka Vaseline) and I keep it covered with bandaging. I would change the dressing at minimal twice a day, usually morning, then at night until scabbing starts to form. If I want the best healing, I will keep up the petroleum jelly/bandaging routine until the new skin has formed.
- After my last crash I switched over to Tagaderm patches. They are clear plastic like patches of various sizes that seal the wound and keep it moist. They usually stay on for several days unless applied to a difficult area. However, they are not cheap.
Road rash is one of the reasons why many cyclists opt to shave their legs. The lack of hair on the legs enables me to clean out the wounds inflicted by the road infinitely easier. Also if patching up wounds on other body parts, let’s face it, the legs are not always the only area that ends up with road rash, it’s helpful to remove any hair around the wound before applying tape or Tagaderm. This will allow the patch, or tape, to make better contact with the skin and create a better seal.
Last thing, if I suspect an infection or a cut that is deep and serious looking, I go to a health care provider for professional treatment. It can be very bad if an infection is allowed to take hold.