Dealing with road rash

In the perennially popular lists like: ‘Top 10 reasons to take up cycling’ –  you don’t usually see –

  1. Learn how to deal with blood and treat your own wounds.

But, unfortunately it does seem to be a bit of a compulsory extra in the cycling curriculum. Cycling is undoubtedly a marvellous thing – good for health, weight, fitness, congestion, carbon neutral e.t.c. but if you do any amount of cycling you will, at some stage, be picking yourself up from the side of the road, with less skin than when you set out. On the positive side, you do learn some elementary elements of first aid.


This would be funny if it happened to anyone else, but yesterday, I fell over for a second time – and I wasn’t even on the bike, just going out of the front door. I managed to hobble around Faro and Gatwick with my suitcases and get home to Oxford. The next morning I was feeling pretty pleased with the progress of my leg so started to clear up the house. Going out to the bins, my trailing left leg, tripped over the lip of the front door and I went tumbling over on to the old injuries and picked up some new ones on my right hand side just for good measure. I now have a symmetry of road rash. I cried out, but the street remained as deserted as a Portuguese mountain. Eventually, after lying on the drive for a while, I realised no one was going to come and help, so I had to pick myself up and go through the tedious process of dressing wounds again. The fall didn’t do my leg any favours – though I still hope it will get better sooner, rather than later.

Dealing with Road Rash

It’s hard to improve on this page here – dealing with road rash But, my tips would include:

  1. Check for signs of breakage and more serious issues. A doctor will check for more serious things and leave skin to the last. Also make sure it is not a deep gash rather than superficial cuts.
  2. Be careful you may be in shock.
  3. Wash out any dirt
  4. Betadine is a good cleanser which doesn’t sting that much. (much better than traditional iodine) (see: Betadine at amazon) Anti bacterial soap is another option.
  5. Have big patches ready. The best are duoderm hydrocolloid types  Road rash tends to be quite big, get some good big strips ready. You can also use non-sticking gauze pads they are cheaper than duoderm. I have a range of sizes in my cupboard.
  6. Change once a day and wash wounds. (duoderm can be left on for longer. (3-7 days – see: link) A warm bath is a good way of loosening bandages before changing and giving wound a good clean.
  7. If you ever fall off, you will really understand why cyclists shave their legs. It’s easier to keep clean and it’s easier to put on and take off bandages. Though, I seem to always fall off in winter, when I can’t be bothered to shave my legs.
  8. It’s an uncomfortable feeling riding with road rash, though it is possible to keep cycling. Often it looks worse than it is. But, the pain of road rash maybe hiding other more serious injuries.
  9. If you do crash, especially with deep cut, be careful about getting a long haul flight. the risk of blood clot is high.
  10. After a few days, try leaving open at night and dress during the day. When it has scabbed over it can be left open.
  11. look out for infection. Signs ill include: increased pain, pus or spreading redness.

Self treating road rash

Often for minor cases, you can treat yourself. It’s easier than finding a nurse. When I fell off in Portugal, it was too extensive and I couldn’t do. When treating yourself, the important thing is not to skimp on the cleaning and applying anti-septic which can be a little painful..

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