Treat Road Rash and Abrasive Injuries From Inline Skating

Girl with knee abrasions.
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Despite precautions and regardless of skill level, inline skaters occasionally fall and find themselves sliding across cement, asphalt, or gravel. This type of fall often creates invasive abrasions called road rash or road burn. All inline skaters should know how to recognize and treat these abrasive injuries because even though road rash is not serious, it is a burn-type injury that can lead to serious infection if not treated promptly and properly.

How to Treat Abrasive Injuries

For proper first aid, you need a wound irrigation solution, clean tap water or bottled water, sterile gauze, and a topical wound ointment. Here's how you treat these inline skating injuries:

  • Evaluate the abrasion. The epidermis provides protection for your muscles and organs, and the dermis provides support and flexibility to the skin. Road rash abrasions remove these important layers of skin. After an abrasive inline skating fall, take time to assess your injury. A minor abrasion only affects the surface layer of skin, shows minimal abrasion, and has no debris embedded in the skin. If a fall is anything more than minor, get professional medical treatment immediately. Some of the symptoms could include pain and heavy bleeding.
  • Clean and irrigate the abrasion. Remove any fragments of clothing, dirt, debris, gravel, and dead tissue from the wound and surrounding areas. It is best to have a medical professional examine and clean the wound. There are many wound irrigation solutions, but clean, cool tap water or bottled water can be used for immediate treatment. A few moments under a cold faucet can also irrigate, reduce inflammation, and numb the area around the wound so that you or a medical professional can clean it more effectively. Use sterile gauze and carefully wipe debris away. Be careful not to cause any additional injury to the skin. Use fresh gauze to dry the wound area.
  • Apply ointment and sterile dressings. Use a topical wound treatment, such as Neosporin, to prevent infection, stop bacteria from growing, and reduce pain. Apply a generous amount to prevent this first dressing from sticking to the wound. Carefully cover the area with a sterile gauze dressing that is bigger than the abrasion. This temporary dressing should only remain in place until you get to an urgent care facility, the doctor’s office, or a hospital.
  • Keep the abrasion clean. Subsequent dressing changes and treatment should be done according to your medical professional’s recommendations.

Factors That Affect Severity

These abrasions are really friction burns, and they can range from a fairly mild to a very severe abrasion. These factors affect the severity of the road rash:

  • Impact speed. Fast skating causes deeper abrasion wounds.
  • Sliding distance. Sliding generates more road rash than a tumble or crash.
  • Surface texture. Rougher roads create more abrasion than smooth surfaces.
  • Surface condition. Surface debris like rocks, glass, or sticks causes additional damage.

Tips

After initial treatment of the wounds, exercise care during the recovery period. Here are some tips:

  • Watch for an increase in pain, swelling, or red marks.
  • If any signs of infection appear, immediately seek additional professional medical help.
  • Consider your immunization history. If your tetanus shots are not up to date, get one right away.
  • Prevention is the best cure. Wear protective gear and choose clothing that protects exposed areas of skin while still allowing comfort and movement.