Road Rash Injuries & Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

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Road rash is a common cyclist’s injury. It is an abrasion caused by friction. It happens to your skin when it gets scraped off by a hard surface or contacts a smooth surface for an extended period. Throughout the summer, viewers of the Tour De France and the Giro d’Italia will be treated to numerous close ups of road rash as professional cycling takes its toll. There will be lots of spectacular crashes, often very serious.

However, summer brings far more cases of road rash than just the pro-cyclists.  Skateboarders, road runners, recreational cyclists and triathletes in shorts or Lycra are prime candidates for sliding across the asphalt and burning off the outer epidermis.

The affected area of skin will appear red, raw, inflamed and often bleeding. Pain and swelling are immediately felt and may last for several days. It’s common to feel no pain at the deepest part of the injured area, however the skin around the edges of the rash can be extremely painful.

As with any injury that breaks the barrier of the skin, road rash can lead to infection. Signs of a wound infection include:

  • Increased pain after the first day
  • Swelling and increased redness
  • Warmth
  • Pus or fluid draining
  • Foul-smelling drainage
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, and body aches.

In rare cases, road rash may cause blood poisoning which is a severe infection that spreads through the bloodstream.

The initial first aid should involve cleaning with lukewarm water and applying an antibiotic ointment: This will help to prevent infection while also acting as a moisturiser. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) will assist with the skin regrowth. A road rash is essentially a burn and hyperbaric oxygen is approved by the FDA for third degree burns. Also it can assist as a prophylactic to secondary infection as both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria cannot thrive in a high oxygen environment. For this to be effective a minimum pressure of 1.5 ATA is recommended but 2 ATA would be preferable.

To find out more about HBOT contact the HybO2 team!