Crash and Return

Infected Abrasions

Ryan Brandt

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» Infected Abrasions
as the coordinator of sports science at Colorado’s Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, Neal Henderson, a former pro off-road triathlete, knows that the rocks and dirt that lodge in your skin when you crash on a bike, trail run, or climb can wreak havoc on your bod. “Loose gravel, dirt, and asphalt—getting those buggers out is the worst,” says Henderson. “But you’ve got to do it. Suffer the pain now or you could pay the consequences later with an oozing, infected wound that can cause staph infections or tetanus and lead to permanent muscle damage.”

TREATMENT: Head to the shower with Henderson’s cleaning tools of choice: a fingernail brush, tweezers, and antibacterial soap. Scrub and pick until all the debris is gone. Then smother the scrape with an antibacterial ointment like Neosporin and wrap it in gauze. If you’re still bleeding after the first hour, you may need stitches. Clean the wound and change the dressing daily.

PREVENTION: We’re not going to lie to you: If you ride, you’re going to crash. You can, however, lessen the risk of infection should you wreck hours away from a shower. Pack a small medicine kit with sterilizing wipes, gauze bandages, and Neosporin or Betadine. The sooner you treat that wound, the less likely it is to become infected.