Crashing is an unfortunate aspect of cycling, but is seen as a rite of passage in most circles.  If you do happen to have the misfortune of crashing, losing some skin in the process is almost certain to happen.  The following is what has helped me in my years of crashing heal-up quick, but should never be used in place of medical advice!

Step 1. Clean It!

Crashing on a bike usually means getting a bunch of junk from the road or trail scraped deep into the wound.  If the debris aren’t removed well, it can lead to infection further down the line (which is no bueno), so step 1 is the most important step!

  1. Let the wound bleed for a bit to help carry out some of the debris from deep within the wound.
  2. When you get home, hop into the shower and let the water gently wash the wound out.
  3. If you still see debris in the wound, you are going to need to get it out with either your hands or a brush.  Ensure both are sterile before putting them into the wound, and if the job looks too big to handle, go to the hospital!
  4. After the debris are removed, gently clean the wound with warm soapy water.
  5. Pat the wound dry.

Step 2. Cover It!

Covering the wound is important to not allow foreign objects and bacteria to touch and possibly enter the wound.  How you cover it and what you use to cover it depends on if the wound is weeping (exudate), or not.

Actively “Weeping” Wound

  • Use triple antibiotic cream and cover the wound with a non-stick gauze pad.  Then pack another 1-2 regular pads on top to help absorb the wound exudate.
  • You can then cover this with a large Tegaderm dressing, or wrap some gauze around the area to keep the pads in place, or get that nifty tube compression gauze and look so pro ↓↓↓
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Source: The Best Bike Blog Ever
  • Change the dressing, clean the wound with warm soapy water, and reapply triple antibiotic ointment every 2-3 hours, or if the pads are leaking (ew!).
  • Do this until the exudate stops, which may take 2-3 days in severe cases.
  • Constantly check for signs of infection over this time as well.

Non-Weeping Wound

  • Clean the wound with warm soapy water and pat dry.
  • Get a large enough Tegaderm dressing to cover the area, place the dressing directly over top of the wound and leave it there.  Tegaderm dressing can stay in place for days and will heal the wound quickly and effectively and without scabbing.  You can also shower with it in place.
  • If you do notice some wound exudate, simply remove the Tegaderm, clean the wound and reapply a fresh dressing.
  • Again, constantly check for signs of infection.

Step 3. Protect It!

After the wound is healed, your skin is going to need to be kept hydrated (body lotion after you shower), blocked from the suns UV rays as it will burn super easy (SPF anyone?), and protected from repeat crashes as it will tear easier than mature skin (elbow/knee pads) for a few months.

Here’s to staying rubber side down!

About the Author Shayne Gaffney

Shayne holds a bachelors degree in biology, is a USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, USA Olympic Committee Safe Sport Certified, and a Category 3 road and cyclocross racer. He is the owner of GC Coaching and the creator and director of P2 Cycling. He can be contacted directly via info@gaffneycyclingcoaching.com

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