Last Updated on May 20, 2023 by Chase Manhattan
Well it finally happened, you went down on your motorcycle. Was it as bad as you thought? Were you geared up? Gear or no gear, it’s likely that you’ll have some road rash somewhere on your body. Don’t worry though, you’re not the first and you certainly won’t be the last.
In the United States, over 80,000 motorcyclists are injured every single year. Not all of these are fatalities; some are completely treatable minor incidents, like motorcycle road rash.
Road rash, also known as a friction burn or abrasion, is when the skin rubs against a hard and abrasive surface like pavement or gravel after an accident while riding a motorcycle. While it can be painful, the good news is that most cases of motorcycle road rash are treatable without needing to go to the doctor.
Are you a motorcyclist who has recently experienced road rash, or are simply curious about the topic? Here’s a comprehensive guide to understanding and treating your motorcycle road rash.
What Is Motorcycle Road Rash?
Motorcycle road rash is also referred to as gravel rash, friction burn, or abrasion. It’s the outcome of your skin rubbing against a hard and abrasive surface after you’ve had an unfortunate accident while riding your motorcycle.
The severity of the rash depends on how long the skin has been in contact with the road and how fast you were going when it happened. If you have just experienced road rash, it could look like small red patches or even more serious cases of open wounds that need medical attention immediately.
Yeah, it’s pretty obvious isn’t it? …. if you have road rash, you’re going to know it. Even when I went down on the track, in full gear and leather suit, I still managed to get some road rash on my arm. Fortunately, it was mild and I was able to finish the track day minus the condition of my bike. However, god forbid you’re on the street and crash… you may wind up with a deep scrub from one of the on scene medics.. nothing quite like having fresh road rash scrubbed free of dirt and gravel.
Road rash from motorcycle accidents can occur for a number of reasons. Perhaps you went into a corner too quickly, or you weren’t paying attention to the road and ended up hitting gravel.
Here are some of the most common causes of motorcycle road rash:
Speeding. If you exceed the speed limit or ride too quickly, you may find yourself in a dangerous situation on the road. The wheels could slip out or you could be thrown off the bike altogether.
Poor road conditions. You may hit an icy patch, gravel, or pothole and lose control of your bike – which is usually avoidable by sticking to well-maintained roads and paying attention to the environment.
Inexperience. If you are a new motorcyclist, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the bike and take caution while driving on the road. You may be tempted to explore different roads or speeds that you are not ready for, which can end in an accident.
Road rage. Have you ever gotten into an altercation with another driver while on your motorcycle? It’s tempting to express anger in the way you’re driving, but it can easily lead to a crash.
Insufficient protective wear. It’s crucial to wear protective gear while riding your motorcycle – this includes helmets, jackets, and gloves. Any exposed skin is at risk of coming into contact with the road if you are in an accident.
If you happen to come off your motorcycle, how can you tell whether you’ve sustained road rash or something more serious?
How To Tell If You Have Road Rash
The most common symptom of road rash is pain. Your skin has been broken, and with that comes a sharp sensation. Pain could also be worsened by small pebbles or gravel that have become embedded in your skin. Road rash is like a high velocity carpet burn right to your skin
Other symptoms of road rash include:
- Swelling and redness around the affected area. Your body immediately responds to road rash by sending extra blood and fluid to the site, which results in swelling.
- Itching. When your skin starts healing, you may feel itchiness that is difficult to resist.
- Scabbing or blistering. The scabs are a sign of the body’s natural healing process as it attempts to seal off the wound from any further damage or infection.
Intense accidents could result in scraping on the bone, which is a much more serious form of road rash. Bone breakages from road accidents are often accompanied by deep cuts and lacerations. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.
How To Treat Road Rash from a Motorcycle Accident
Some cases of road rash will warrant a visit to your doctor. If the wound is deep and bleeding, you should seek medical advice to ensure proper healing.
If your road rash does not require medical attention, here are some tips for motorcycle road rash treatment at home:
- Clean the area with soap and water as soon as possible after a crash to remove any dirt, gravel or debris.
- Apply an antibiotic cream to prevent infection and promote healing.
- Cover the wound with a sterile dressing or bandage to protect it from further damage. Iodine is also a good option for disinfecting the wound.
- Avoid scratching or picking at scabs as this can slow healing and increase the risk of infection.
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce discomfort and swelling.
- Apply cold compresses to help soothe the pain, reduce swelling and prevent further injury.
- Take short, lukewarm showers rather than baths to avoid irritating the wound. Avoid using harsh soaps or products that could dry out your skin.
- Keep the affected area clean and dry and covered with a sterile dressing until it is healed.
It’s important to remember that road rash can take several weeks or months to heal completely. During this time, you should take care to keep the wound clean and dry, and avoid activities that could aggravate it.
If you’re anything like me, taking time off from the things you love just isn’t going to cut it. I would highly recommend some specialized treatments, if you insist on returning to your normal activities while healing. CrashPads are specifically designed to adhere to road rash, while acting like a bandaid. This will help you heal faster, but will also protect the rash while performing your normal responsibilities.
When To See A Doctor
Although most cases of road rash can be treated at home, some road rash degrees may require medical attention. If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical advice as soon as possible:
- The wound is deep or bleeding profusely. Blood is flowing out of the wound at a consistent rate.
- You can see bones or tendons in the wound.
- The skin around the wound appears to be infected or turning red and swollen, with pus draining from it.
- You have a fever, chills or feel generally unwell.
- You experience severe pain when touching the area of your road rash.
An injury like road rash may seem minor at first, but can become a much bigger problem if it’s not treated properly. By following the above steps, you can help ensure that your road rash heals quickly and without complications.
By the way, if you happen to have one of these symptoms.. it’s more likely that you have a full blown compound fracture instead of some run of the mill motorcycle road rash.
How Long Does It Take Road Rash To Heal?
The healing process of road rash is going to be shorter or longer depending on a few factors.
First of all, how deep is the wound? If it’s a superficial burn, it may take several days to heal. However, if it’s a deep road rash, healing can take weeks or even months.
Second, are you taking care of your wound properly? Proper cleaning and bandaging will help ensure that your wound heals quickly and without any complications.
Finally, how severe is the infection? Road rash can become infected if not treated properly, and this will slow healing time.
The general advice given to road rash patients is to take things slow and give your wound about two weeks to heal properly.
To speed up your healing, it is also possible to find products that are designed specifically for road rash. Products like CrashPads were designed specifically to treat motorcycle related road rash.
How To Avoid Motorcycle Road Rash
The best treatment for motorcycle rash is prevention. If you know how to protect yourself and stay safe on the road, you’ll be far less likely to suffer from road rash.
Wear Protective Gear
Clothing decisions are crucial as a motorcyclist – not for fashion reasons, of course, but for safety! Make sure you wear protective gear such as a helmet, gloves and pants that cover your arms and legs.
Leather is an excellent material for motorcycle clothing, as it offers protection against abrasions and is quite durable. It’s essentially a second layer of skin protecting your body from the road.
While some motorcycle clothing can be uncomfortable, especially in summer, it’s worth the sacrifice for your safety.
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
A benefit of riding motorcycles instead of driving cars is that you’re less tempted to be distracted by music or your phone. However, there are plenty of other distractions to take your focus off the road, such as people walking on the sidewalk or other vehicles.
As a motorcyclist, it’s absolutely crucial to be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to any potential hazards. Never assume that the people around you are paying attention to you, so be sure to stay alert and keep your eyes peeled.
Stick to Speed Limits
All drivers, whether in a car or on a motorcycle, should always follow the speed limits. While it may be tempting to go faster and feel the wind rush through your hair, you’ll also increase your risk of getting into an accident and suffering from road rash.
Going too fast for conditions, such as wet roads or heavy traffic, limits your ability to react appropriately and increases the risk of an accident. Even a slight acceleration on a wet stretch of road can cause a motorcyclist to lose control and fly off the bike.
Maintain Your Motorcycle Regularly
The importance of regular maintenance can’t be overstated. Make sure you check your tires and brakes often, as they are the most important components when it comes to maintaining control over your motorcycle.
Fluid levels should also be checked regularly, and any worn or damaged parts should be replaced immediately. Taking care of your bike will help ensure that you’re always in control while on the road and reduce your chances of getting into an accident.
It is much easier to maintain your motorcycle when you know how to clean a motorcycle the proper way. During riding season, I typically recommend detailing your motorcycle every month or so. This will allow you to keep a close eye on the condition of your bike, and sometimes, spot an issue before it becomes a bigger problem.
Monitor Traffic and Weather Conditions
Planning a road trip? Take the time to check the traffic and weather conditions before you leave. Heavy traffic or bad weather can increase your risk of getting into an accident, so you need to be aware of the potential hazards.
If you have to ride in bad weather, make sure you give yourself plenty of time and leave extra space between you and other vehicles. Even a small amount of water on the road can be enough to cause you to lose control and crash.
There will always be inexperienced or intolerable people on the road – but if they do something frustrating or dangerous, don’t let anger take control. Staying calm is the best way to avoid an accident and protect yourself from road rash.
Try to maneuver away from unsafe people as quickly and safely as possible. The last thing you want is for your anger to cause you to make a mistake or do something reckless on the motorcycle.
You won’t always be able to prevent road rash by following these tips, but they can help you minimize your chances of getting injured. If you do get road rash, make sure to treat it with the appropriate first aid measures and see a doctor if necessary.
Getting Back On the Bike
Can you still ride after a motorcycle road rash injury? The answer depends on the severity of your wound and how it’s healing – but most of the time, it’s possible to get back on the bike.
If you’re feeling unsure or nervous about getting back in the saddle, practice some slow driving before you hit the highway. Take it easy and don’t push yourself too hard if your wound is still healing. You can also talk to your doctor for advice if necessary.
No matter what happens, don’t let a motorcycle road rash injury stop you from riding. With proper treatment, you can make a full recovery and get back to enjoying the open road.
If you’re hesitant to get back on a bike, don’t worry yourself too much. Many people are without a motorcycle for some time after a crash. I went four years without one! However, if you’ve got the itch but aren’t ready to commit to a new motorcycle there are options for you! I’m a host on Riders-Share, a peer to peer motorcycle rental platform. It is fully ensured, and much more affordable compared to franchised rental shops. Riders-Share is the perfect way to access motorcycle rentals without a huge commitment. Riders-Share is accessible anywhere in the USA, meaning regardless of location you can get to the motorcycle destinations of your dreams!
Guys (and girls), it really juts comes down to making sure your skills are as sharp as possible. When we hop on a motorcycle we are acknowledging the risks associated with it. In a high risk activity you cannot blame others for any accidents that happen, you must accept full responsibility for your safety. This can be done by attending motorcycle track days or by completing a ceritified skills course like one found at the Yamaha’s Champions Riding School.
Can You Get Road Rash From Riding a Bicycle?
Yes, road rash can occur when riding a bicycle or any other two-wheeled vehicle if you are moving fast enough to cause friction between your skin and the ground.
Motorcycles are obviously much faster than bicycles, so you’re more likely to get road rash when riding a motorcycle. But no matter what kind of vehicle you’re driving, it’s important to be aware of the risk and take proper safety measures.
Will Road Rash Scars Disappear?
The amount of scarring you experience after motorcycle road rash will depend on the severity of your wound. In some cases, you may not have any permanent scarring at all – but in more serious cases, the skin may become discolored or raised.
If you’re concerned about scarring, talk to a doctor who can assess your injury and recommend treatments to minimize its appearance. With proper treatment, you can help minimize visible scarring from road rash.
Can Road Rash Aggravate Other Injuries?
Yes, if you already have an existing injury, road rash can cause further damage and make the healing process more difficult. Make sure to seek medical attention right away if you’ve been in an accident or experienced any type of road rash.
Motorcycle road rash is a common injury among riders and ranges from superficial scrapes to more serious wounds. While it can be painful and cause scarring, there are treatments available to help reduce the severity of your injury and minimize the visibility of any scars.
Make sure you take proper safety precautions when riding a motorcycle and seek medical attention if you experience road rash – even if it doesn’t seem too severe at first. Taking these steps can help ensure that you heal as quickly as possible and reduce the risk of complications.
As with anything, if you’re in doubt.. don’t be afraid to consult a professional.