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Examining the causes and severity of road rash

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2023 | Injuries, Motorcycle Accidents |

Taking a ride on a motorcycle involves heightened risks of injury. With proper riding gear, you might avoid severe harm and even preserve your life if you get caught in an auto collision. Still, you may have to deal with a road rash if you become thrown off your bike.

Some road rashes are minor and are something you can treat at home. However, there are times when a skin injury can produce life-threatening results.

How road rash occurs

Road rash refers to severe abrasions of the skin caused by sliding across pavement after falling off a motorcycle. It often occurs after a crash throws a motorcyclist from a bike during an accident. The friction between the road and unprotected skin scrapes away layers of skin, resulting in painful and disfiguring wounds.

How road rash can manifest

Road rash wounds are complex injuries involving damage to the epidermis, dermis and even subcutaneous fat layers. Debris such as dirt, gravel and asphalt tend to contaminate the wound. Road rash can range from mild scrapes covering a small surface area to severe abrasions extending across large portions of the body. Treatment depends on the severity, location and depth of the abrasions.

When wound debridement is necessary

Sometimes, a road rash wound requires debridement. This involves the medical removal of dead, damaged or infected tissue to improve wound healing. For road rash injuries, surgically debriding embedded debris can be necessary.

Depending on the severity of the contamination, doctors may perform debridement in the emergency department or during follow-up wound care. The goal is to fully clean out the wound by removing all foreign matter and nonviable tissue. This creates a fresh wound base that can heal more effectively. Debridement also reduces bacterial counts and infection risk.

Given that 5,932 fatalities from motorcycle accidents took place in 2021 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, avoiding becoming another statistic is a concern for any motorcyclist. While road rash represents a common but serious abrasion injury for motorcyclists, you should pursue possible treatment options if your situation calls for it.