When your skin rubs against a rough surface, you may get road rash. Cleaning and protecting the abrasion from additional damage is important. Seeking medical attention is usually unnecessary except in a few cases.

Road rash is type of friction burn or skin abrasion that occurs when you scrape your skin against something rough. Sometimes, these injuries are called raspberries or strawberries. Whatever you want to call them, they can be painful but are commonly treated at home.

Treating the road rash correctly can help prevent the wound from becoming infected. It will also help limit or prevent scarring.

Road rash is a superficial injury to the skin. The outer tissue is ripped away by a rub or a scrape against another object. Most of the time, road rash is a minor injury, but sometimes the injury can take off several layers of skin and require skin grafting surgery to help it heal correctly.

Road rash occurs more frequently in the spring and summer due to the weather and more people choosing outdoor activities. People sometimes choose to wear less clothing in the spring and the summer, which means they have less protection for their skin in the case of falls or accidents.

Common activities that can result in road rash include:

  • biking
  • skateboarding
  • motorcycle riding
  • baseball or softball
  • running

Most cases of road rash can be treated at home without going to the doctor or hospital. However, you should always monitor injuries for signs of infection or additional damage to the body. Follow these steps to treat your injury:

  1. Wash your hands. If you are caring for your own wound or another person’s wound, you should always wash your hands first. You may have bacteria or other substances on your hand that could cause infection.
  2. Wash the injury. You should then wash the abrasion. Do not scrub the injury with a lot of pressure, as this could cause further damage and bleeding.
  3. Remove debris. You should carefully remove the debris if you notice visible bits of grass, rock, or dirt. Use tweezers if necessary.
  4. Apply antibiotic ointment. Once the injury is clean, you should apply an antibiotic ointment such as Bacitracin or Neosporin. This will help kill any bad bacteria that may have come in contact with your wound. Apply the ointment carefully to not cause more bleeding.
  5. Cover the road rash. Covering the injury will help the injury heal and prevent bacteria from coming into contact with the open wound. If you keep the area moist, it will help your skin heal. You can use a non-adherent pad or other lightweight medical covering.
  6. Keep the bandage fresh. Try to change your covering once or twice a day. If you accidentally get your bandage wet or unusually dirty, you should change it more frequently. If the bandage feels stuck or hurts when you go to remove it, moisten the bandage. You can do this with water or salt water. This should allow your scab to soften to allow the bandage to be removed.
  7. Check for infection. Keep an eye out for infection as the injury heals. If you are experiencing increased pain, pus, redness, or drainage be sure to use antibiotic ointment. If the injury continues to worsen, you should visit a doctor.

Road rash is usually a minor injury, but some cases can require medical attention. See your doctor if your injury fits any of the following conditions:

  • visible muscle or bone
  • large foreign objects embedded in the injury (rocks, glass, or debris)
  • injury covers most of limb or body
  • pus or drainage is coming from wound
  • wound is bleeding excessively

If you follow the treatment steps above and don’t encounter infection, your wound should heal within a couple of weeks. Deeper wounds may require more time. Severe road rash can require skin graft surgery or additional care.

If you have signs of infection in or around your injury or if your injury does not improve, have your doctor do a full evaluation and recommend treatment.