Road rash refers to skin and underlying tissue abrasions caused by contact between the skin and a road surface. It is a painful injury that can cause scarring and deformity, in severe cases. Although each patient is unique, most cases of road rash heal within two weeks. Deeper skin injuries may require professional medical care and take longer to heal.

What Is Road Rash?

Road rash is a type of skin injury caused by abrasions, scrapes or friction burns. When bare skin rubs or gets dragged against a hard surface such as gravel, concrete or asphalt, the surface of the skin (the epidermis) can tear. The affected area may be abraded until it appears red, raw or bloody. In more severe cases of road rash, friction burns can affect the deeper underlying tissues (the dermis).

Road rash is a common injury suffered in motorcycle accidents due to the velocity of the crash ejecting the rider from the bike and causing him or her to slide or skid across the road. It can also be caused by a bicycle accident, skateboarding or rollerblading incident, due to a fall while walking or running, or sports injuries from baseball or softball. Road rash is more common in the summertime, as individuals are more likely to wear clothes that expose their skin.

What Are the Degrees of Road Rash?

Road rash is classified into three different degrees based on the severity of the injury and how deep the damage extends:

  1. First-degree road rash: minor scrapes and skin damage that may be accompanied by pain, tenderness, slight bleeding and light bruising. These injuries can typically be cleaned and cared for at home. 
  2. Second-degree road rash: more serious friction burns that can come with bleeding, swelling, and the possibility of exposed muscles or tendons. These wounds are painful and require professional medical care. They often result in scarring.
  3. Third-degree road rash: deeply gouged skin that creates severe wounds with heavy bleeding. These injuries can be extremely painful or numb due to nerve damage. Muscle and bone may be exposed. Third-degree road rash needs emergency care and often causes scarring and disfigurement.

The recovery time for first-degree road rash is an average of two weeks or less, while second-degree and third-degree road rash can take up to a month or longer to heal.

Road Rash Treatments

A case of minor road rash can typically be treated at home unless it affects a large area of the body or a sensitive place, such as the face. At-home care can involve gently rinsing the wound to clean away foreign objects, using an antibiotic ointment to help prevent infection and keep the wound moisturized, and lightly covering the injury with sterile gauze or bandages to protect the area and keep it clean. Road rash may feel itchy, stiff, dry or tight as it heals.

If a road rash injury appears more severe than a first-degree friction burn or takes longer than two weeks to heal, it requires professional medical care. This may include wound debridement (deep cleaning) and antibiotics to prevent infection. In the most severe cases, road rash may require skin graft surgeries to take healthy skin from a different part of the body and use it to cover the injured area.

Financial Compensation for a Road Rash Injury in Texas

If you or a loved one suffered road rash in a preventable accident in Texas, such as a bicycle or motorcycle collision involving a negligent driver, contact the San Antonio personal injury attorneys at Maloney & Campolo for a free case consultation. We can help you understand your legal rights and pursue fair financial compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering from one or more responsible parties. Call (210) 463-4700 today.