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Abels & Annes, P.C. Chicago Injury Blog

How to Treat Road Rash from a Motorcycle Accident

How to Treat Road Rash from a Motorcycle AccidentAll motorcyclists risk suffering road rash injuries if they get thrown from their bike during a motorcycle accident. The abrasions one suffers after their body comes in contact with the road can cause life-altering injuries depending on how severe they are.

In most cases, treating road rash requires emergency medical treatment to prevent infection and mitigate physical damage. Below we provide a broad overview of the two main types of road rash and their symptoms, how the medical profession categorizes degrees of road rash, and the medical treatment options associated with each level. We also provide some tips for bikers to avoid road rash when they are going for a ride.

If you have been in a motorcycle accident, contact the Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers at Abels & Annes today to get the compensation you deserve after suffering road rash injuries.

Two Main Types of Road Rash Injuries

Generally speaking, road rash refers to a wide array of injuries someone can suffer when their body hits asphalt or gravel during a motorcycle accident. Doctors recognize two main types of road rash injuries:

Avulsion Injuries

Avulsion injuries are the most common type of road rash injuries. They occur when layers of a person’s skin peel away as it slides across the surface of the road. In some cases, avulsion injuries expose fat and muscle and can even expose bone when road rash is severe. Strawberries, more formally called surface abrasion, do not penetrate the skin. These injuries heal quickly within a few weeks and typically do not need medical attention. In the most severe avulsion injuries, motorcycle accident victims must have one or more reconstructive surgeries that typically include skin grafts.

Compression Injuries

Compression injuries occur with the body or limbs are crushed between two objects. In a motorcycle accident, a compression injury can occur when a biker gets crushed between his or her motorcycle and the road, which leads to bruising, muscle damage, and multiple fractures. Compression injuries are severe events that typically need immediate medical treatment. In the most severe cases, motorcycle accident victims who suffer compression injuries need ongoing medical treatment for weeks, months, or longer.

Doctors Evaluate Road Rash by Degree

Doctors and other medical professionals use degrees to evaluate different levels of road rash injuries. The categorization is very similar to the way we talk about burn injuries in degree. Below is an overview of each level of road rash and what specifically distinguishes it from other levels:

First-Degree Road Rash

First-degree road rash injuries are superficial, meaning they do not penetrate below the top layer of skin. A child falling off their bicycle and ‘skinning’ their knee is similar to what motorcyclists suffer if they sustain first-degree road rash in a motorcycle accident. Fortunately, these injuries often heal completely within a few weeks and rarely leave permanent scars.

It’s always in your best interest to seek medical treatment after you are in a motorcycle accident, especially when another party is responsible. Yet, first-degree road rash typically only requires medical treatment if it covers a large portion of the body. You can treat these injuries at home with basic first aid by cleaning the abrasions and covering them with bandages until they heal.

Second-Degree Road Rash

The primary difference between first-degree and second-degree road rash is that second-degree road rash injuries break through the top layer of skin, formally referred to as the epidermis. These wounds generally do not leave scars and heal on their own without intervention. Yet, second-degree road rash injuries are open wounds. When a body slides across the road, sand, gravel, dirt, or asphalt may embed themselves in the wound. Left untreated without proper cleaning, second-degree road rash can lead to dangerous, potentially fatal infections.

Motorcyclists who suffer second-degree road rash injuries need to seek medical treatment and let a nurse or doctor remove visible pieces of dirt, stone, and gravel. Afterward, these second-degree road rash wounds require thorough cleaning with iodine or saline to disinfect the area and promote healing.

Third-Degree Road Rash

Scarring and permanent skin damage occur when a person suffers third-degree road rash from a motorcycle accident. The friction of the body scraping across the body causes all the layers of skin to peel away, leaving muscle and fat tissue fully exposed. It’s not uncommon for third-degree road rash to also expose the bone.

Those who suffer third-degree road rash must seek immediate medical treatment and likely will have to undergo one or more reconstructive surgeries with skin grafts. Like second-degree road rash, third-degree road rash injuries are open wounds that need medical professionals to clean them to avoid deadly infections.

Depending on the circumstance of a motorcycle accident and the amount of road rash a person suffers on their body, some choose not to go to the hospital for medical treatment after first or second-degree injuries. If you make that decision, you need to keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of dangerous infections.

If any of the following occur, you must immediately go to the emergency room:

  • Increasing redness and/or swelling
  • Increased feeling of heat or warmth in and around the wound
  • Increased pain
  • Drainage of pus from the wound
  • Red streaks or lines around the wound

Follow These Tips to Avoid Road Rash From a Motorcycle Accident

Other drivers in trucks and passenger vehicles, especially careless and inattentive drivers, put motorcyclists at risk for an accident. Another person’s negligence sometimes causes irreparable harm to the safest motorcyclists who follow the rules of the road and prioritize safety. You cannot always prevent road rash completely, but you can lessen your injuries when you wear the right gear.

These tips about proper motorcycle gear can help:

  • Wear a helmet. Helmets not only protect bikers from road rash head injuries, but they also protect them from traumatic brain injuries.
  • Wear leather. Leather jackets and pants absorb some or most of the friction created when a body slides across the road, making it unlikely a biker will experience third-degree road rash.
  • Wear gloves. Bikers who get thrown from their motorcycle try to break their fall with their hands. Gloves can protect the hands from road rash.

Road rash injuries from motorcycle accidents sometimes have severe consequences. Contact an experienced Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer today to get the compensation you deserve after suffering road rash injuries.

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