Road Rash: Like Rug Burn, But Worse

Have you ever gotten a rug burn? This type of “burn” is an abrasion caused when friction arises between the skin and a surface, like carpet or a rug. While not a serious injury, a rug burn can be momentarily painful, and can leave a red, bloody mark. Now imagine what a rug burn would like if the skin collided with a harder surface, like concrete. When this happens, it can cause an injury known as road rash.

Like rug burn, road rash is an injury that occurs when there is friction between the skin and a surface. It commonly affects motorcyclists and bikers, but can also occur from a variety of outdoor activities, like rollerblading or longboarding. Depending on the fall and type of surface, road rash injuries can be very mild, or can lead to permanent scarring.

There are three types of road rash:

  • First degree. With this kind of road rash, the skin will be reddened or chaffed, and will appear very similar to a simple rug burn. At this stage, it is not a serious condition, and should not require medical attention, aside from basic cleaning and bandaging.
  • Second degree. When the skin is broken, a road rash becomes a second degree injury. The top layer of skin will break, exposing the underlying layers, although the underlying layers will probably not break. Like first degree road rash, it can usually be treated at home or with over-the-counter treatments. However, there is a slight chance of scarring.
  • Third degree. This occur when all the layers of the skin are broken, exposing the fat beneath the skin. Third degree road rash can be very painful, and requires medical attention; there is also a chance of scarring or infection as the injury heals.


It might not seem like a big deal, but road rash can have lasting consequences. In cases of second and third degree road rash, permanent scarring can occur. If this is in a visible area, like the face, it can lead to negative feelings like shame or isolation, or could even cause the victim to lose out on a job opportunity. If the injury is severe enough to require medical attention, or if the injury leads to an infection, medical expenses and lost wages are another issue to deal with.

To prevent road rash injuries, motorcyclists and bicyclists should wear proper protective gear, including helmets, pads, and good shoes. On the roads, they should always obey traffic rules, and watch out for drivers who are distracted or intoxicated. Hopefully, all people on the roads stay alert and courteous at all times, but to prevent injuries, it’s important that motorcyclists and bikers remain extra vigilant.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.


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