The Facts About Road Rash

As the largest organ, the skin defends the human body from germs, extreme temperatures, and some physical impacts. When a bicyclist or motorcyclist falls onto a roadway at a high speed, the skin, made up of water, protein, fats, and minerals, will do its best to protect the rider — getting cut up and scraped in the process.

Those cuts and scrapes are known as road rash. While this injury is commonly experienced during, motorcycle, bicycle, and, to a lesser extent, car crashes, it can also occur while hiking, walking, ice skating, skateboarding, and riding scooters. Road rash is usually very painful and requires treatment, either at home or at a medical facility.

When the warmer weather arrives, activities that may lead to road rash increase. People become more active and don fewer garments, especially bicyclists and motorcyclists. Not surprisingly, road rash incidences often spike in the spring and summer months.

What Exactly Is Road Rash?

Road rash is an injury to the skin caused by rubbing or scraping. Resistance is the force at work, damaging the skin and, in many cases, tissue, bone, and muscle beneath the superficial layers. While all parts of the body may be vulnerable, the elbows, forearms, hands, and knees tend to be the most susceptible.

In appearance, mild road rash resembles a typical skin rash, with a pattern of red blotches and marks etched into the skin by body parts making contact with and moving along a hard surface such as road pavement. But, as just about everyone who has experienced it will agree, road rash pain far exceeds the pain from everyday rashes.

More severe road rash injury types include open wounds, avulsion, and compression. Open wounds can easily get infected. With avulsion, the wound may penetrate all of the skin’s layers. Sections may be nearly detached or entirely scraped off. 

Compression wounds arise when the injured person gets caught between two objects, like a motorcycle and the road. The injuries may come in the form of bruises, muscle damage, or fractures.

The Three Degrees of Road Rash

There are three degrees of road rash. The degree can serve as a guide for determining the extent of medical care required. Symptoms of first-degree road rash, the least severe, include minor scrapes, bruises, and tenderness. Treatment at home using over-the-counter wound solutions and pain medication should suffice.

Second-degree road rash affects deeper levels of the skin, even reaching the tendons, and comes with more severe pain. This type of injury calls for immediate professional medical attention.

Third-degree road rash — the most serious — involves the tearing off of skin layers, with the wound sometimes drilling down to the fat layer. Because more nerves have been damaged, the pain has been described as extreme. Third-degree road rash demands extensive medical care.

Untreated Road Rash Can Lead To Complications

If not promptly and effectively treated, road rash can lead to complications, including MRSA infections, necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease), and tetanus. These complications can be life-threatening.

Depending on the degree of road rash and the treatment, the injuries may result in permanent damage: skin and joint scarring, disfigurement, chronic wounds, and nerve, muscle, and tissue damage.

Road rash may be a common injury, but it does not have to be. Those most prone to it can take steps to prevent it or reduce the severity of the wounds. Awareness of the road, including weather and traffic conditions, is one essential consideration for any rider. Another is wearing protective clothing and gear. Motorcyclists, for example, can arm themselves with boots, gloves, helmets with face shields, and jackets and pants made from leather or fabrics like Kevlar.

Contact the Arizona Personal Injury Lawyers at Curiel & Runion Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers Today

If you were injured in an accident in Phoenix, AZ, and need legal help, contact our Phoenix personal injury attorneys at Curiel & Runion Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free case review today.

Curiel & Runion Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers
1221 E Osborn Rd. Suite 201
Phoenix, AZ 85014
(602) 595-5559