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How To Treat Road Rash

May is National Bike Month, but sometimes kids fall off their bike and make contact with the pavement or some other surface. So what then? Here are some tips from two-time Olympic cyclist, Erin Mirabella:

  1. Be prepared: Have a first aid kit handy containing all the supplies you'll need to clean and care for road rash.
  2. Assess the damage: Your child should be able to tell you where the main road rash is, but it's a good idea to lift up her clothing and check out the covered parts of her body.  
  3. See a doctor: If your child's abrasions are deep and bleeding a lot, hold a clean towel or cloth over the wound and apply direct, constant pressure until the bleeding stops. Deep wounds should be checked out by a doctor or paramedic; they may require stitches
  4. Play it safe: Make sure to have your child checked out by a medical professional if her injuries are more serious then superficial abrasions; it's always better to play it safe and take precautions.
  5. Clean the wound: Use a clean wash cloth, soap and water to gently wash all of the dirt and grime off the road rash. It is a painful process, and it is probably best if a paramedic or someone other than your child cleans the area. It isn't easy to inflict that kind of pain on yourself. The goal is to remove debris from the abrasion without making the wound worse. The sooner the wound can be cleaned after the crash the better. After her wounds are clean, dab them dry, or let them air dry, and dress her wounds.
  6. Dress the wounds:  You can put an anti-bacterial ointment on the wounds, such as SafeSkin anti-bacterial gel. Cover the abrasions, not with gauze or a traditional Band-Aid which will allow the abrasion to dry out, but instead with a semi-permeable dressing. These types of dressing keep the abrasion moist, promote healing and decrease the chances of infection. I found I scarred a lot less when I used this type of dressing. Change the dressing every two or three days; your child can shower with them on.
  7. Ice swollen areas: Icing swollen areas in the first twenty-four to thirty-six hours will aid in your child's recovery. After a crash she should ice swollen areas two to three times a day for 15-20 minutes at a time. Make sure she places a thin layer of cloth between the ice and her skin.
  8. Pain Medication. After a bad crash your child is going to feel like she got hit by a Mack truck. Not only will her road rash hurt, but she will be sore from head to toe. Ibuprofen, or a similar over the counter medication, can help decrease her pain.
  9. Follow-up Care: Fresh pink skin is very vulnerable to the sun. Make sure to apply sun screen to freshly-healed road rash to keep it from burning. I always put vitamin E on my freshly healed road rash to help prevent scarring. If you decide to give it a try, make sure to put old sheets on the bed because vitamin E will stain!