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What motorcyclists should know about road rash

Road rash may sound like an itch and look like a scrape, but it is measured by doctors as a burn. According to WebMD, it is a friction burn that is defined by the number of layers of skin that are damaged. A first-degree friction burn only takes off the first layer, but a fourth-degree burn goes all the way through the skin layers and damages the blood vessels, nerves, muscles and bones beneath. 

Because road rash is such a common motorcycle injury, gear manufacturers have developed many kinds of jackets that can protect the skin in an accident. According to Motorcycle Cruiser magazine, textiles have been developed that are stronger, lighter weight and more durable than their counterparts of earlier years, offering significant protection in a crash while also being comfortable and stylish. 

Leather is another material that offers protection when a rider comes into contact with the road. It scuffs, but resists tears and melting. However, not all leather jackets are the same, and thickness of the material is not as important as the quality of construction. Leather may offer better protection in a high-speed crash because it abrades slowly, and does not gain heat as quickly as textiles over a long slide.

Regardless of the materials of the outer garment, it is important for riders to wear pads or body armor underneath. Soft pads absorb the shock of an impact, while stiffer pads keep objects from penetrating the skin. Armor is often worn over the elbows and shoulders, and some riders also choose to wear protection over their chest and spine, as well. 

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