Press "Enter" to skip to content

FAS Road rash and friction burns


If you have ever grabbed onto a moving rope,
or a dog lead, you have probably had what is called a friction burn. This is where something
abrasively rubs against your skin and, due to the friction between the two, causes a
lot of heat to be generated. This burns the outer layers of skin and will be very painful.
In cycling, a similar sort of thing happens if you fall off of your bike at high speeds.
However, these are much more dangerous than your average friction burns. There are many
more factors that come into play after an accident like this. First of all, there is
the crash itself, you may have been hit by a fast-moving car, or you may have just misjudged
going around a corner too quickly. The initial impact can be devastating depending on how
fast you are going, and where and how you land. Once you hit the floor however, you
will skid. This causes a lot of friction, whether that be between the road and your
skin, or the road and whatever clothes you are wearing, so lycra, polyester, or just
regular clothing. At higher speeds, this friction will be enough to actually break through even
some of the stronger clothing like your lycras and polyesters. This then causes your skin
to be in contact with the road. On any sort of concreted road, there will basically always
be tiny bits of gravel on the surface. When your skin brushes against this, the grit will
get stuck in the wound and this can cause problems. This is what we call road rash – when
the outer layers of skin have come off and commonly bits of grit or gravel get stuck
in the wound. Because this wound has broken layers of skin,
our bodies’ natural barrier of infection, we are then liable to harmful pathogens entering
our body. First of all, if the road rash is bad – or there are more pressing injuries
to deal with such as broken bones, head or spine injuries or serious or catastrophic
bleeds – you need to clean the wound and get any grit out. This should preferably be
with antiseptic wipes, or if you are at home, you can use a tougher sponge in the shower.
This will sting as the nerve endings will already be damaged, however that few moments
of pain would be worth it to prevent a prolonged infection. If the impact with the ground was
quite severe but you are okay to go home, you may want to cover an ice pack and, in
short but frequent periods, cool the wound. This will reduce swelling in the affected
area and will hopefully help to a quicker recovery.
Something else that can cause more pain with road rash is if something sticks to it. This
is normally something like clothing or your bedding. So if possible, in the day, try and
keep it as exposed to the air as possible, as this aids the healing of damaged tissues
and blood vessels. If this is not possible, for example, either the wound is too big or
is in an awkward place, then you should cover it with a non-adhesive dressing, and this
applies at night as well, so your duvet doesn’t stick to it. This will allow you to cover
the area whilst still ensuring that nothing will stick to it.
Minor injuries should heal after a few days, but larger cases can take around 2 weeks to
heal. Again, this all depends on how the accident happened, so you can closely monitor the wound
and if it is serious, seek medical help.

One Comment

  1. hedgerowpete
    hedgerowpete February 20, 2020

    brilliant video, if i can make one small suggestion and its tiny small, the treatment and attitude to deal with adult human first aid, can you mention if there is any differences when deal with children. not asking for seperate child section but just for differences

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *