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Understanding road rash: The seriousness of friction burns

You were riding your motorcycle when a teen driver came out of nowhere. You suspect the teen wasn't paying attention, because he wasn't even looking in your direction when you were hit.

You went flying off your motorcycle, skidding across the gritty pavement. You broke several bones and have bad bruising, but the worst of it seems to be the intense road rash that developed.

What is road rash?

Road rash is just a fancy way of saying that your skin was scraped from the friction of the pavement against it. Depending on the severity of the injury, you could need prolonged treatment to prevent infection.

What should you do if you suffer from road rash?

Initially, anyone involved in a collision should go to the hospital. Once there, a doctor can identify how serious the abrasions are. If you don't go to the hospital right away, at least make sure to wash the wounds. You should clean it with drinking water. Don't scrub hard; you want to remove grit without grinding dirt in deeper into the wound.

If the wounds are deep or you can see the underlying fat in your arm, leg, stomach or other area, you need to seek medical help. Having a deep wound or exposed fat means you probably need stitches, if not surgical cleaning of the wound itself.

Once your road rash is cleaned, you'll need to continue dressing it to prevent infection. Some patients end up requiring long-term dressings or an eventual skin graft.

In any case of road rash caused by a traffic accident, it's a good idea to file a claim right away. This injury is treatable, but it can be costly.

Source: Bicycling, "How to Treat Road Rash and Prevent Scarring," Molly Huford, accessed Feb. 13, 2018

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