Stinging showers and wounds sticking to the sheets waking you up in agony. Sound familiar? Fortunately I haven’t had to deal with too many crashes throughout my cycling career. Therefore I’m happy to say that I’m no expert on dealing with road rash. I am, however, familiar with the pain of crashes and have developed my own way of dealing with my wounds that may or may not be medically sound. It does work and here it is…
First, take two to four 200mg ibuprofen with food 45 minutes prior to cleaning you wound. The maximum dose is 800mg every six hours and no more than 2400mg in 24 hours. It’s especially helpful right before bedtime so you can get some sleep. (I got this information on ibuprofen dosages through various internet searches. Once again, I’m not a doctor so you may want to confirm with your GP what your personal tolerance is.)
Next, clean the wound with mild antibacterial soap and a washcloth and plenty of water. Only scrub hard enough to get the gravel out to prevent it from tattooing your wound. Abrasive scrubbing is unnecessary because you risk damaging tissue and delaying the healing process. After the wound is clean, gently pat your road rash damp-dry.
In terms of covering the wound up, I use this second skin product called Opsite . It’s breathable, quite resistant to water, and heals wounds in about 1 week. You just need to place it over the wound without putting any ointment on it and let the wound heal inside. It will get disgustingly 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 never get a scab with this, so you can be out riding the same day, if you aren’t too sore.
Check your wounds daily for increasing redness, swelling, pain, pus or foul smelling drainage. These are all signs of infection and you should seek medical attention. If it’s been 5 years since your last tetanus shot, go to the ER. There’s no glory in dying of lockjaw.
There is also good article from a qualified emergency medicine physician here on how he likes to handle road rash. In the experience of qualified road rash victims including myself, the Opsite method above is the best for superficial wounds (most road crashes) where just the top layers of skin are removed.