Despite its name, road rash is not a typical rash. Instead, it refers to a skin abrasion caused by contact with a road surface, often resulting from a motorcycle, bicycle, or skateboarding accident. Road rash may sound like mild skin irritation, but it can be a serious injury that leads to severe health complications. Connecting with a personal injury lawyer can help you in a road rash situation.
What Is Road Rash?
Road rash also known as road burn or raspberries is a skin abrasion or scrape that exposes flesh under the skin. The sores are painful but may only bleed slightly unless the wound worsens. Road rash often heals on its own, but deep abrasions or those causing nerve damage may require medical attention.
How Does Road Rash Happen?
Road rash occurs when the skin is peeled away or scraped off, such as when someone falls or is dragged across the pavement.
Road rash commonly occurs in sports or outdoor activities, such as:
- Motorcycle riding
- Running or jogging
- Baseball or softball
- Walking a dog, if you fall and are dragged while still holding the leash
- Playing on a driveway or at a park or playground
Because spring and summer weather encourages more time outdoors, road rash often occurs during these seasons. People also tend to wear less clothing during warmer months, leaving their skin with less protection if they fall or experience another accident.
Road Rash Symptoms
When the outer tissue of the skin has been scraped off, a road rash injury will appear raw and red. The wound’s edges are usually the most sensitive you may not feel any pain at the center or deepest part of the affected area. Pain and swelling can last for several days.
Even if you think the wound will heal on its own with proper care at home, you should always seek a doctor’s diagnosis. There are different degrees of road rash, and what starts out as a simple scrape can turn into a severe wound if it is not treated properly.
Without proper treatment, road rash can lead to infection, edema, and permanent scarring.
Treatment for Road Rash
We can’t stress enough that you should seek medical care if you suffer road rash. Only a doctor can determine the severity of your injury and apply the proper treatment and medication.
Healthcare professionals may perform initial first aid care that includes cleaning the abrasion, removing debris from the wound, applying antibacterial ointment, and covering the wound with gauze and bandages. A medical professional will also provide detailed instructions for any wound care or maintenance you must perform at home to ensure proper healing.
Severe road rash injuries may require extensive medical intervention, including hospitalization, medications, or surgery. Further, you could have additional injuries requiring care, so seek medical attention immediately if you suffered abrasions in an accident.
Treating Severe Road Rash
When road rash peels off several layers of flesh, you have a severe case. You could also have damaged nerve endings under your skin. You should never attempt to treat severe road rash yourself. If the wound is deep or covers a large area, seek medical attention immediately. If you are at the scene of an accident, have the paramedics treat your injury and transport you to the emergency room for a complete evaluation.
Severe road rash is typically treated in the burn unit at a hospital because you may require a skin graft or other reconstructive surgery. During the skin graft procedure, healthy skin is transplanted from one part of your body to the site of the abrasion. The skin is usually from a part of your body hidden by clothing. Over time, your body develops new blood vessels at the wound site, spurring the growth of new skin cells that help heal the injury.
How Do You Know If Your Road Rash Is Severe?
Road rash is severe enough to warrant medical treatment if:
- The abrasion covers a large part of your body (more than three times the size of your palm)
- Bone or muscle is visible
- You are bleeding profusely
- You have the symptoms of an infection
- The abrasion affects your hands, feet, face, or genital area
- Foreign objects are stuck in the wounds (such as glass, dirt, grass, rocks, or other debris)
If you notice any of the above signs, do not delay seeking medical treatment.
Risks of Infection From Road Rash
When road rash gets infected, this can lead to complications and long-term symptoms.
After a road burn, keep a vigilant eye out for these signs of infection:
- Increasing pain or pain that doesn’t subside with time
- Increased swelling and redness
- Fever, chills, aches, or other flu-like symptoms
- Warmth coming from the wound
- Pus or fluid draining from the wound
- Foul odor coming from the wound
Road Rash Can Lead to Sepsis
While rare, road rash can also lead to blood poisoning if an infection goes unchecked. Bacteria from the road burn can enter the bloodstream, causing a condition known as bacteremia.
If the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream develops into an infection, it is called septicemia. This type of blood infection can be life-threatening or fatal, especially if it turns into sepsis.
When any type of infection occurs, your body’s immune system releases chemicals and proteins to fight it. It can also trigger severe inflammation, a condition known as sepsis. Sepsis can lead to rapid heart rate, fever, sudden drop in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, tissue damage, organ failure, or even death.
Early diagnosis and treatment are paramount to avoiding a severe, life-threatening complication like sepsis. That’s why it’s imperative that you never take road rash lightly.
How Long Does It Take Road Rash to Heal?
Generally, mild cases of road rash will heal within a few weeks with proper care. More severe cases or cases where an infection has set in could take months to heal. If you require a skin graft procedure, healing can take even longer.
Closely monitor your recovery progress and always check in with your doctor if you have concerns about how things are going or if the wound is taking longer than expected to heal.
Does Road Rash Leave a Scar?
The potential for scarring from road rash depends on the severity of the wound and if you have any aggravating factors, such as infection, debris within the wound, or additional tissue damage.
Mild road rash will probably heal without a noticeable scar, but severe cases especially those requiring a skin graft will likely leave a scar. Your doctor may suggest that you use vitamin E oil or cream to help your skin heal after the wound begins to close. Using antibacterial ointment may also aid in the healing process and reduce scars.
It’s important to thoroughly clean your road rash wound of any debris. If any foreign objects are left in the abrasion as it begins to heal, they may become permanently stuck in your skin. When this happens, the healed skin may appear discolored or bruised. Scars like these are known as traumatic tattoos.
You may be unable to remove all the foreign objects on your own. A medical professional can conduct a proper wound debridement, which is flushing the wound to remove debris.
Motorcycle Accidents Often Lead to Road Rash
Motorcycle accidents are one of the common causes of road rash. Unfortunately, motorcyclists have little protection from the road or surrounding environment while riding. The lack of coverage and high travel speeds also increase their risk of skin abrasions, especially if the rider is involved in a collision or another type of accident.
While the risk of road rash is higher for motorcycle riders, it may be secondary to other types of injuries that motorcyclists are more prone to, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury, or back injury.
Nonetheless, motorcyclists who suffer road rash should treat it with the same caution as they would any other accident they have while riding. Remember, what may seem like a small rash at first could turn into a more serious, and even life-threatening situation if not treated properly.
Seek Medical Attention for Road Rash After a Motorcycle Accident
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident, it’s imperative that you receive medical attention as soon as possible especially if you hit your head. Brain injuries can rapidly progress over time, and other injuries may not be immediately apparent to you but are detectable by a medical professional.
If you suffer road rash, the doctor can treat it in conjunction with any other injuries you suffered in the crash. Always get medical attention even if you think you are okay or could manage your road rash at home.
You Need Medical Documentation of Your Injuries to File an Accident Claim
To file a motorcycle accident claim for compensation, you need medical evidence of your injuries. The cost of your medical treatment might be recoverable in your claim if another party was at fault for the crash.
For severe road rash injuries, you may require a skin graft or other treatment in the future to ensure the wound is healing properly. The costs can add up, and a doctor can let you know the specific care you need now and in the future. With this information at hand, a lawyer can help calculate the amount of compensation to which you may be entitled.
When filing an insurance claim, it’s also crucial that your injuries can be attributed to the accident. That’s another reason why it’s important to seek medical attention immediately following the incident. If you wait too long to see a doctor, the insurance company or the at-fault party’s attorney may argue that your injuries were not a result of your accident or were not as severe as you claim them to be.
Compensation for Lost Income Due to Road Rash
Road rash can put you out of work for days, weeks, or months. When the time you spend healing causes you to lose income, you can claim those losses in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
If you can return to work, but your ability to perform tasks is reduced due to your road rash injuries, you could also receive compensation for your lost earning potential.
Recovering Compensation for Emotional Injury After Road Rash
In some cases, road rash may leave you scarred or disfigured in some fashion. The physical marks left from road rash injuries often result in victims bearing additional emotional weight long after healing. This is particularly true of those who suffer road rash on their face, hands, arms, or legs. Scars in these areas are more difficult to hide and may bring shame to victims.
Laws in most states allow you to claim damages for pain and suffering that road rash victims may experience, such as:
- Emotional distress
- Reduced quality of life
A Lawyer Can Help You Recover Compensation for Road Rash Injuries
If you suffer road rash in a motorcycle crash, cycling accident, or any other type of incident, the road to recovery may be painful and overwhelming. As you heal from your injuries, consider contacting a personal injury lawyer to begin filing an insurance claim. If necessary, a lawyer also can take your case to court to hold the at-fault party liable.
The negligent party responsible for your accident should foot the bill for the treatment of your injuries, not you. A personal injury lawyer can ensure that all your accident-related expenses and damages are included in your claim or lawsuit so you receive the compensation you deserve.