BicycleSource Newsletter

Road rash is a term for the wounds created when abrasion against a road surface damages or grates skin following a spill. These wounds can be messy and difficult to deal with, so effective treatment is essential. Experienced trainers and doctors generally recommended the following.

Clean the wound as soon as possible using an anti-bacterial soap such as Betadine. Showering is recommended, as running water will help flush out dirt and grit. If you can't get to a shower right away, at the very least dab the wound with an anti-bacteria solution and cover the wound with a non-stick telfa pad coated with bactrin or neosporin to prevent infection and scabbing. The wound can then be showered clean when you get home. It often helps to put an ice bag on the wound after it has been covered to reduce swelling.

After the wound has been showered clean, cover the wound with either 1) a non-stick telfa pad coated with bactrin or neosporin, or 2) one of the Second Skin type products that are available. If you go the telfa pad route, daily dressing changes will be required until a thin layer of new skin has grown over the wound. If you go the Second Skin route, follow the directions on the package.

The general consensus is that scabbing should be prevented and that the Second Skin type products were the most convenient -- less dressing changes and they hold up in a shower. (Silvadene was not mentioned, probably because it requires a prescription.)

It was pointed out that if one of the above treatments is followed, then you don't have to go crazy scrubbing out the last piece of grit or dirt in the wound, as some people believe. This is because most of the grit will "float" out of the wound on its own when a moist dressing is used.

There are now products that go by the names Bioclusive, Tegaderm, DuoDerm, Op-Site, Vigilon, Spenco 2nd Skin, and others, that are like miracle skin. This stuff can be expensive ($5 for 8 3x4 sheets), but does not need to be changed. They are made of a 96% water substance called hydrogel wrapped in thin porous plastic. Two non-porous plastic sheets cover the hydrogel; One sheet is removed so that the hydrogel contacts the wound and the other non-porous sheet protects the wound.

These products are a clear, second skin that goes over the cleaned (ouch!) wound. They breathe, are quite resistant to showering, and wounds heal in around 1 week. If it means anything, the Olympic Training Center uses this stuff. You never get a scab with this, so you can be out riding the same day, if you aren't too sore.

It is important when using this treatment, to thoroughly clean the wound, and put the bandage on right away. It can be obtained at most pharmacies. Another possible source is Spenco second skin, which is sometimes carried by outdoor and cycling stores. If this doesn't help, you might try a surgical supply or medical supply place. They aren't as oriented toward retail, but may carry larger sizes than is commonly available. Also, you might check with a doctor, or university athletic department people.
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