How To Treat Road Rash From a Motorcycle Accident

crashed motorcycle on the side of the road with a helmet

If you’re in a motorcycle accident without a heavy vehicle to protect you from injury, the chances of coming into contact with the road are high. Known as road rash, these common motorcycle crash injuries can be severe and painful for victims.

Our motorcycle accident attorneys explain what it is and how to treat road rash in the event of a crash.

What Is Road Rash?

Road rash1 is an injury to the skin from friction burns when skin slides on any rough surface during an accident. The skin is ripped off any part of the body due to contact with the ground for an extended period of time. While most common in motorcycle crashes, it may occur in other scenarios such as treadmill or bicycle accidents.

In most cases, road rash causes immediate pain. However, pain from very severe injuries that expose muscle, fat, and bone may come on more slowly following the accident. There is usually redness or swelling, and pus and fluid may be present. The injury may also feel warm to the touch.

What Type of Clothing Should You Wear To Protect From Road Rash?

Whether you’re the driver or a passenger of a motorcycle, wearing adequate protection is crucial to safe riding every time you get on the bike. Here are some things to consider wearing for the best protection against injury:

  1. Helmet. A helmet should always meet DOT federal safety standards.
  2. Jacket. A jacket should cover the chest, back, and abdomen. The best jackets are thick and made of leather.
  3. Heavy Pants. The rider should also wear heavy pants made from a thick material with reinforcement in areas where contact is most likely to occur.
  4. Gloves. Gloves are important since a person is likely to reach out with their arms in the event of a fall.
  5. Boots. Strong boots offer additional protection by providing stiffness and stability for the lower legs and feet.

How Do You Treat Road Rash After a Motorcycle Crash?

It’s important to assess injuries quickly and get the necessary help after a motorcycle accident. According to trained healthcare professionals2, here are some steps to follow for road rash friction burns:

  1. Seek emergency medical care – Get help immediately after the injury; depending on the severity, wounds may be life-threatening.
  2. Treat the most severe injuries first – Call for emergency medical care to tend to the affected areas; apply pressure on bleeding until emergency help arrives.
  3. Wash your hands thoroughly – Minimize the risk of infection when dressing wounds.
  4. Remove debris or foreign objects – Let soap or another disinfectant run over the injury, but do not rub the wounds.
  5. Apply an antibiotic ointment – Topical ointments can help prevent infection.
  6. Use protective dressings like gauze or bandages – Non-stick gauzes are preferred to prevent sticking to the skin.
  7. Change bandages regularly – Replace the dressings at regular intervals and when they are dirty, wet, or lose their grip.
  8. Seek regular medical attention – Necessary for second and third-degree wounds to monitor healing and prevent infection.
  9. Watch for signs of infection – This may include pus, redness, and prolonged pain.
  10. Get medical advice from your health care provider – over-the-counter medication or prescriptions may be recommended to manage pain and other issues.

road rash on arm from motorcycle crash

It is not safe to swim with road rash. An open wound is especially susceptible to infection. Water may contain bacteria that can cause infection. More significant injuries should be allowed to heal before going for a swim3.

What Factors Impact the Severity of Road Rash?

The severity of abrasions from a motorcycle accident depends on several factors, including:

  • The speed of the crash
  • Clothing worn at the time of the crash
  • The angle the victim strikes the ground
  • Weather at the time of the crash
  • Substance of the road surface itself
  • Distance traveled while sliding
  • Debris or objects on the road
  • Use of protective equipment like a helmet and eye protection

Road rash takes anywhere from a few weeks to a year to heal—or even longer in some cases. Minor injuries should disappear in as little as two weeks with proper dressing. More severe injuries may require hydrating creams, skin grafting, and rest to prevent scars and retearing.

What Is the Right Way To Fall Off a Motorcycle To Reduce Injury?

If you know a crash is imminent, here are some steps to take that may reduce injury4:

  1. Apply brakes – Try to slow down and minimize the impact.
  2. Determine crash point – If possible, avoid hitting anything head-on and try to manoeuver your cycle for a side impact.
  3. Stay on the bike – It’s best to stay on your bike if you can. Bailing or laying down your bike is best to avoid if possible.
  4. Slide well – If a slide is unavoidable, try to relax and focus on keeping your head off the pavement.
  5. Prepare to roll – If you are unable to avoid impact, ball up to protect yourself as much as possible.

Deciding whether to slide or ball up if you see a crash coming depends mainly on the situation. Here are some things to consider:

  • Slide – Sliding is considered a much better alternative to balling up and may help reduce the severity of the injury. If you’re wearing proper gear and slide well, you may get through a crash with less severe injuries.
  • Ball Up – Balling up is only recommended if there are no other options. If you see a crashing coming while still on your bike, pull your knees to your chest, cross your arms over your knees, and tuck your head down.

In both cases, try to stay calm, assess the damage, and then get the help you need.

Attorneys for Motorcycle Accidents With Road Rash

If you have suffered road rash injuries in a motorcycle accident, you may deserve financial compensation. Understanding what you may receive and how to claim it can be complex.

At Bachus & Schanker, our motorcycle accident attorneys have years of experience helping individuals document their medical damages to claim fair financial compensation for motorcycle accident injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation and see how we can help.


1Brennan, D. (30 April 2021). What to Know About Road Rash. WebMD. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
2Sawyers, T. (20 August 2020). Road Rash Treatment. Healthline. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
3Thornton, L. (23 December 2019). Is it OK to Swim With an Open Wound? U.S. Masters Swimming. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
4Padway, M. (10 May 2019). How To Crash a Motorcycle Safely. Motorcycle Legal Foundation. Retrieved 22 February 2022.

Similar Posts