What is Road Rash?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2019
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Road rash is a type of skin abrasion which is caused by being dragged along pavement or concrete. It is called “road rash” colloquially since it is often associated with vehicle accidents. In most cases, it can heal quite well if carefully treated, although deep abrasions may cause scarring. Abrasions do not usually require professional medical treatment, but you should see a doctor if you are involved in any type of vehicle accident to ensure that you do not have internal bleeding or other injuries which may not be readily apparent.

These types of abrasions are caused by friction, which rubs off the external layers of the skin when a body is dragged along pavement. Many motorcyclists and bicyclists have suffered from road rash at some point, as many falls are accompanied with a brief skid along the pavement. If someone is ejected from a car in a car accident, he or she can usually count skin abrasions among a number of associated injuries.


Because road rash scrapes away the upper layers of skin, it can be very painful, as nerve endings may be exposed. The degree of bleeding associated with it varies, depending on how deep the abrasions are and which part of the body is injured. The first concern in caring for this type of injury once the patient has moved off the road and out of danger is cleaning the wound site, as infection can set in amongst the extensive abrasions. After cleaning, the rash should be bandaged with a lightweight, breathable bandage, and the patient may want to use an antibiotic ointment or cream to encourage healing.

It is not uncommon to feel stiff and tender while road rash is healing. In addition to the obvious pain and itching associated with the healing of the abrasions, the accident which caused the injury can cause soreness. However, the abrasions should clear up well with minimal scarring, especially if the patient keeps an eye on them and uses ointments or vitamin E oil to promote healthy healing. It is a good idea to get a tetanus shot for abrasions if you have not recently been immunized, to ensure that you do not develop tetanus.

Some signs that road rash may be serious enough to require medical care include: swelling around the wound site, smelly or obviously infected pus, heat around the region, or exposed bone. You should seek medical condition for severe cases of road rash, as infection can be painful and dangerous and it may cause serious scarring.


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Post 3

@ysmina-- I usually use products from the pharmacy or from health stores for road rash.

In the past, I've used vitamin E oil, aloe vera gel and various over-the-counter burn ointments. They all worked well to relieve the pain and speed up healing.

Warm salt baths are also great. Just add some salt to your bath water and sit in it for a while. If you live by the beach, you can go for a swim too. It might burn a little but it heals much more quickly and prevents infection too.

Post 2

Are there any home remedies to speed up road rash healing and prevent scars?

Post 1

I used to get a road rash on a regular basis when I was a kid. I spent most of my childhood riding my bike around the neighborhood with my friends. I used to fall a lot though and my legs and arms were usually covered in road rash.

It's quite painful and I guess I'm lucky because I never developed infection from it. I think I used to just ignore it and keep playing.

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