Road rash: symptoms, diagnosis, causes and treatment


A road rash is a general term used to refer to an abrasion on the skin, an area of the body that has been scraped off. Injuries are more likely to occur when exercising outdoors on paved surfaces, such as skateboarding.

With a road rash, the affected area usually looks wet and may bleed slightly. The injury can be very painful, but it usually heals in a couple of weeks with home treatment. However, if the injury is deep and has damaged nerve cells, medical attention may be required.


The affected area of the skin will become red, moist, and inflamed. Bleeding is also common. Pain and swelling are felt immediately and can last for several days.

Pain is often not felt in the deepest part of the injured area. However, the skin around the edges of the rash can be very painful.

As with any injury that disrupts the skin barrier, a road rash can lead to infection. Signs of a wound infection include:

  • Increased pain after the first day.
  • Swelling and increased redness.
  • Warmly
  • Flow of pus or fluid
  • Bad odor drainage
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, and body aches.

In rare cases, a road rash can cause blood poisoning, a serious infection that spreads through the bloodstream. Septic shock, a life-threatening condition that causes dangerously low blood pressure and organ failure, requires immediate medical attention to prevent complications, including death.


A road rash usually occurs as a result of a fall or drag across the sidewalk or mud, such as in a bicycle accident or while playing a sport. When a person's body comes into contact with the ground, any exposed skin is vulnerable to scratches on the rough surface.

For example, if a person falls or runs a hand over the resin, the abrasion will cause the top layer of the skin to peel off.

Traffic flares are more common in the spring and summer, as warmer weather encourages more outdoor activities. What's more, because people tend to wear less and lighter clothing at this time of year and engage in activities that require sweat, they have less protection for their skin in the event of an accident.


A road rash is usually a superficial skin lesion that does not require professional treatment. If you take good care of the wound and keep it clean and dry, it will heal on its own in two weeks.

However, if you have a more serious road rash, the injury may affect deeper layers of your skin. If a road rash takes more than two weeks to heal, you should seek medical attention.

When to contact a healthcare provider

For a road rash, see your doctor if:

  • The wound is more than three times the size of the palm.
  • It is found on the face, arms, legs, or genitals.
  • Visible muscle or bone.
  • Foreign objects such as glass or small stones are stuck in the affected area.
  • Profuse bleeding
  • Look for signs of infection.

If you see your doctor about a road rash, they will assess the severity by doing a simple physical exam of the affected area.

After a more serious accident or injury, especially one that doesn't seem to heal or is causing severe pain, the healthcare provider may also take X- rays and other pictures to check for other injuries, such as a broken bone or fracture. foreign object under the skin.

In the rare cases where an infection or more serious complication is suspected, your healthcare provider may also order blood tests and cultures and monitor your vital signs, such as heart rate, pulse, and oxygen levels.

Watch out

In severe cases of road rash, see your doctor. However, most mild cases can be treated on the playing field, on the road, or where an injury has occurred.

If the wound is not bleeding much and the pain is tolerable, you can also wait and treat the wound when you get home. A standard first aid kit probably contains all the tools needed to treat a road rash.

First aid

If you are facing an injury, review steps 1, 2, and 3 below before deciding to treat your road rash yourself. Although a road rash may seem serious and painful, it is usually not life threatening. Don't let the presence of bleeding wounds distract you from evaluating the injured person:

  1. Be safe : If the person is injured and unconscious , do not move them. The only exception is if the location is not secure and leaving them where they are would be more dangerous than moving them to a safer location.
  2. Treat life-threatening injuries first : Make sure they are breathing and awake. Eliminate any bright red bleeding or splashes from an injury that needs to be stopped immediately.
  3. Stop bleeding : Usually a road rash oozes instead of blood. Apply light pressure with a bandage or clean cloth to stop the bleeding.

Stop and evaluate

If the victim is unconscious, has trouble breathing, or is bleeding profusely, call 911 immediately . Follow the dispatcher's advice before proceeding. He or she will tell you what to do next while you wait for the emergency medical service to arrive.

If the injury does not seem serious enough to call 911, continue with the next steps (some of which may or may not be suggested by the dispatcher if you really need to call 911).

Rinse the affected area

Wash a road rash with soapy water to remove dirt and debris from the wound. You can soak the wound in soapy water before attempting to remove the debris.

To do this, you may need to gently clean your skin of foreign objects. In rare cases, it may be necessary to remove debris with sterile forceps (this should be done by a healthcare professional if possible).

Close the wound

Place gauze over the wound and wrap it to secure it. Dry dressings will work, but you can moisten the first layer with saline or sterile water. If you are using a layer of a wet dressing, be sure to cover it with a dry gauze before you wrap it.


If the victim has not recently received a tetanus shot, they may need medical attention. Your doctor or the emergency room doctor may be vaccinated against tetanus , a serious bacterial infection that affects the nervous system and can be life-threatening.

Care and healing

As the road rash heals, the pain will subside, although the area may be painful. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe pain relievers. For mild cases, an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol is sufficient. If the abrasion is on or near a bent body part, such as an elbow or knee, the joint may feel stiff and painful.

A road rash usually heals well and goes away with minimal scarring, but it's a good idea to monitor the abrasion as it heals. After the first day, you can start using an antibacterial ointment or vitamin E oil to speed up healing.

Remove the old bandage and replace it with a new one at least once a day. Watch for signs of infection, such as redness and pain or fever.

If an infection occurs, an oral antibiotic is usually required for treatment. Untreated infections can lead to serious, life-threatening health complications.

Severe cases

A severe road rash should be treated like a burn, which may mean reconstructive surgery is needed. A skin transplant uses healthy skin from another part of the body. The donor site is usually an area that can be easily hidden under clothing, such as the buttock or inner thigh.

The healthy skin graft is grafted into the injured area and held in place with light pressure and a soft bandage, staples, or stitches. As healing progresses, new blood vessels appear that aid in the formation of new skin cells and wound healing.

Although most cases of road rash can be safely treated at home and heal on their own, more serious injuries can occur. Any road rash that hasn't completely healed in two weeks should be evaluated by a doctor.

Frequently asked questions

Does a road rash leave a scar?

Yes, it could leave scars. It can also leave a discoloration known as a traumatic tattoo, which occurs when pigmented debris is not removed from the wound. Traffic rash scars can look like scars from a burn – the more severe the burn, the more likely a scar will form.

What should I request for a road rash?

Apply an antibacterial ointment such as Neosporin to the wound before the first dressing. Be careful with an ointment not recommended for burns, such as Bactroban . As the wound heals, you can use a vitamin E cream to help repair your skin.

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