It’s said that you’re not a real cyclist until you’ve had at least 10 crashes. Many stories can be told by our tattooed elbows, hips and knees. I’ve written about the subject of dressing road rash before and I’m proud to say that I’m far from being an expert on this topic. I’m the luckiest man alive when it comes to avoiding road rash, but have had enough experience with hitting the bitumen to know very well the feeling of stinging showers and sleepless nights. And for some reason, it always happens on my left-hand side.
A mate of mine (who wants to remain anonymous) has a brother who is a specialist physician at a local hospital here in Melbourne. He recently attended a lecture run by an expert in wound management who used a lot of examples of cyclist wounds. I don’t like giving medical advice on this blog, but this information he passed onto me is consistant with what I’ve heard many times before and has worked very well in my experience.
1. Wash the wound with saline or water.
2. Clean the wound as gently as possible. Scrubbing the wound to clean out gravel etc is to be avoided if possible. Macho cyclists think pain is good. It isn’t in this regard.
3. Get hold of a specific wound dressing such as Opsite or Duoderm. Apply it and leave it on for a few days. Re-apply in need. It’s breathable, fairly resistant to water, and heals wounds quickly. Just place it over the wound without putting any ointment on it and let the wound heal inside. It will get moist and smelly underneath, but it “retains wound contact with the natural wound exudate which contains vital nutrients for growing cells, and white blood cells to prevent infection “. It’s like miracle skin. You’ll never get a scab with this stuff. For big wounds, keeping them moist is the key to comfort whilst healing and faster healing.
Do not let your wound dry out. The myth of “getting air” onto a wound is just that and will extend healing time by ages, kill cells and increase chances of infection.
4. If you are going to maintain first aid gear, keep a bottle of saline, some gauze for cleaning the wound and a few patches of Duoderm or Opsite (unfortunately it’s quite expensive).
Here are some before and after shots of some road rash only a couple days after using the Duoderm application. It’s awesome stuff.
Note: the advice above has been verified with numerous medical experts and is intended for superficial wounds. Anything recommended in the comments section of this post is unverified and is to be used at your discretion. If in any doubt, please don’t hesitate to see a doctor.
These RoadID bracelets are catching on and I think they’re an excellent idea (I don’t have one, but keep meaning to order one). You never plan on getting in an accident and this is a good way for paramedics to find your critical information. One good tip that a mate passed onto me after he got in a crash and needed to call an ambulance was to have your Medicare number etched onto the RoadID when getting it made. This way the hospital knows your medical history and can bill your visit directly to Medicare.