Treatment Tips For Common Triathlon Injuries

By Mark A. Caselli, DPM

What About Abrasions And Lacerations?
Abrasions. These injuries are often caused by a crash or fall from the bicycle or by a runner losing his or her footing and falling on a rough surface. The skin is abraded and can become a deep wound. There are three degrees of abrasion-type injuries: first-degree injuries are superficial, second-degree injuries leave some or partial thickness damage to the skin and third degree is full-thickness damage to abraded areas.
In treating the first-degree abrasion, be sure to clean it out, removing all debris (i.e., gravel, sand or dirt) from the skin tissue. You may use hydrogen peroxide and gauze to scrub the area clean. If debris is packed in the tissue, you may need to use a scrub brush. Once it is clean, proceed to use a petroleum-based medicated ointment and cover it with a non-stick sterile dressing. Second-degree abrasions and wounds normally respond to the same care as first-degree wounds. Third-degree wounds require more attention and if they do not respond to this treatment regimen, then skin grafting may be necessary.
Lacerations. These injuries commonly occur from falling off or crashing bicycles as well as from stepping on or rubbing up against sharp objects during the swim. The cut produced may leave a smooth or jagged wound through the skin, damaging the subcutaneous tissue, underlying muscles, nerves and blood vessels. Common sites for lacerations at a triathlon include the hands, arms, legs, feet and head.
You should control bleeding from these wounds with direct pressure. After bleeding is under control, clean the wound with soap and water. Then you can apply an antiseptic solution such as Betadine. Proceed to close the wound by pulling the edges of the wound together with adhesive strips such as Steri-Strips. You may apply tincture of benzoin to the skin around the wound to improve the adhesion of the strips. Quickly assess larger lacerations to determine if suturing is needed. It is important to remember all open wounds should be kept clean and the bandages changed regularly. Observe wounds for signs of infection and review the patient’s tetanus injection status.

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