The most visible part of my accident was the damage to my face. Road rash is never pretty, and bikers get to experience a lot of it over time. I’ve scraped knees, bruised hips, ripped gloves, and banged elbows in the various bike crashes I’ve had, but nothing as bad as when I went over my handlebars and landed on my face on the cement bike path – a very dirty cement bike path. Denver is high desert country, so we don’t get rain to regularly wash the streets clean. The area where I crashed was quite busy, not just with bikers, but a lot of unsavory elements of society like to hang out below grade, next to the creek. There is no telling just what was on that surface, and then embedded in my skin.
At the hospital, they soaked pads in something to soothe the pain and draw out the blood in order to use the body’s anti-bacterial properties to work for itself, which resulted in me going home with a really nasty bloody and scabbed over face. It also hurt like hell. Like most people, I actually do care a bit about my appearance (I’ll admit to even wearing tinted sunscreen, waterproof eyeliner, and mascara on rides to look a wee bit better in ride photos) and so this scrape had me scared. Combined with the eight stitched into my lip, I was certain I would be scarred for life, and I was pretty upset. They told me at the hospital that keeping it moist was the best way to avoid scarring while the scab sloughed off. Our first instinct was to go for the neosporin, but I’ll tell you – neosporin may claim to have pain relieving properties, but that’s a lie. It’s also disgusting looking, because the creamy white version dries out, turns yellow, and makes you look like patient zero of the zombie apocalypse. Neosporin wasn’t doing the trick, so we tried some alternatives, which I’m reviewing here.
The first product we found and used while the scab was still present is made specifically for athletes. Brave Soldier is a company that makes “athletic performance skin care products”, including sunscreen, cleansing products, a nifty little group of things called a “crash pack” – everything you need on the road for instant crash care when you are far from more complete medical care, and the product I tried, their Antiseptic Healing Ointment. Unlike Neosporin, this stuff actually DOES cut the pain, because it’s laced with lidocaine, the exact stuff they put on my face in the hospital. In addition, it’s a clear oil-like gel. When I put it on my scab – it was wet and shiny – and it STAYED wet and shiny. This is the protection I needed. No gross goopy crust that hurt to wash off. Just moist protection. The addition of herbs and natural oils appeared to speed the healing process as well. Once I got the Brave Soldier ointment (about 5 days after the accident) my scab started healing quite fast, and within 2 weeks was just about gone, other than a small spot on my lip. I kept using it on that too, until I had the scab actually cut off with the stitches (they were holding it in place). Once the scab was gone though, I needed to move to a new product to help protect and heal my new skin underneath where the scab had been.
I tried a few moisturizing creams, with no results – they pulled, burned, and were too strong chemically for the new skin. They dried out almost instantly upon application, making my skin look tight and red and raw – again, not a good thing. The whole area had multiple layers of bruising that would need to heal, with some of it gradually moving to the surface, so I needed something to protect, moisturize and soothe the entire area while waiting for that to happen.
Right around that time, I was looking on facebook, and there was a promotional discount for one of the sponsors of one of the local racing teams, Suuthe by Mari. After poking around on their website, and looking for reviews of the product elsewhere, I shot them off a quick email requesting a small sample to test out in exchange for an honest review. They were almost instantaneous in their reply, and said yes, of course they’d send me a sample. Well, not only did they send me a sample, they sent me full size container of the Skin Repair. Already, that spoke volumes about their belief in their product, and their willingness to promote it. For someone who was having a rough go of it after the crash, this also warmed my heart – there was enough here to actually “fix” my face, if the product worked….and it does.
Packaged in a silver tin with a twist top, the Skin Repair is a solid oil product. It is not vegetarian, if that matters to people (it doesn’t for me.) The main ingredient in the Suuthe line is Emu Oil, which is a byproduct of Emu farming. I don’t want to go into the whole debate about the ethics, morals, etc of animal products, but instead, I want to focus on this stuff. It works.
Not only did I have the tight, painful, new skin, but I also had a break out along my hairline of stress eczema. A couple applications of the Skin Repair made that go away. On my face, the skin repair kept things moist for a good portion of the day, and I used it religiously instead of Mederma (which I found caused tightening and pain as well). Because it’s a solid oil, you have to use the heat of your hands to soften it up to spread it. This was not difficult to do, and I liken the texture to solid massage bars that have coconut oil or the like in them, where contact with the body makes it spreadable. The Suuthe skin repair easily softened under my fingers, and I was able to spread it over the damaged area of my face, and use it to massage the scar forming on my lip – necessary to avoid building up dense masses of scar tissue.
Skin Repair also smells pretty awesome, with a combination of lavender, lemon and chamomile essential oils. The website suggests that it can be used on anything, from psoriasis to road rash to stretch marks and scars. I have been QUITE pleased with it, and have used it on everything from scratches from my cat’s nails, to little recurring dry spots on my face, to dry cuticles.
So, to recap: I wholeheartedly recommend either and both of these products to cyclists, or any athlete with the potential for skin injuries. You can buy them by following the links below, which are NOT profiting me in any way. I simply think they are totally worth purchasing and love to support a good product that has proven itself. Don’t wait till you have an injury and need it, buy it today. You’ll be glad you did!