Just about anyone who spends time riding a bicycle has stories of getting knocked off their bike. Ideally, this does not involve head injuries or worse. It is typical for bumps and especially scrapes to be called “road rash” because the skin abrasion looks like a bad rash, or a “raspberry” because the skin abrasion looks like a ripe raspberry.
It is human nature to shrug off these types of injuries as less severe because the victim can walk away from the crash or even ride if their bike still functions. It is, however, a mistake to dismiss these injuries as minor. While the wound may not be deep, they can be quite large and lead to infection, scarring or worse.
How serious is it?
Abrasions are like other injuries, which means they are graded. The more layers of skin removed by the crash, the higher the grade of the injury. First-degree abrasions are more like a graze and may not even bleed. Third-degree abrasions cause damage through the skin layers and likely require medical attention – they often bleed heavily and end up embedded with road grit.
A doctor should evaluate serious injuries as soon as possible after the crash. This can help avoid infection, and they can provide ointment that is more effective than over-the-counter treatments. The cyclist will also need to be vigilant in their care of the wounds and change their dressing at least once per day (or whatever the doctor says). Signs of complications from the injury include:
- Increased pain the following day
- Discharge or foul-smelling drainage
- Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills and body aches
Not healing properly
In rare cases, road rash can lead to blood poisoning or even a lethal case of septic shock. Improper healing of less severe injuries can still leave the victim with lingering injuries that can keep them out of work or prevent them from functioning properly for periods of time. Depending on the complications, it may be necessary to get guidance from an experienced personal injury attorney who handles bike-related injuries.