Basic First Aid for Cyclists

Knowing what to do if you have been involved in an accident on your bicycle is crucial for those of us who travel on two wheels. Often times, people simply do not know the correct procedure to deal with these types of situations.

Being prepared to provide first aid in a timely manner to a fellow cyclist who has suffered a fall or traffic incident while riding a bicycle, or to yourself, can make a big difference in your health and in your recovery time from possible injuries. you have suffered after an incident.  

First of all, it is necessary to know that first aid is those procedures and techniques of an immediate nature that must be provided to people who have been victims of an accident or a sudden medical condition. This help precedes other more complex and exhaustive procedures, which will have to be carried out by specialists in specialized places such as a hospital or a clinic.

And without good being pessimistic and always expecting the best, it is smart to be prepared for the worst.  

Common cycling injuries and how to treat them

How to treat cuts and scrapes

Whether from a fall or a hit with an object on the road, cuts and scrapes are the most frequent injuries among people who ride a bicycle. 

1. Wash your hands and wash the wound to avoid infection

Clean the wound very well with plenty of water and remove any dirt. Preferably use soap to wash it, but if you use alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or iodine, keep in mind that this will irritate the wound and cause more pain.

2. Stop the bleeding

For the most common lacerations and scratches among cyclists, the bleeding usually stops only after a few minutes (no more than 5 minutes).

If the bleeding does not stop, apply gentle pressure with a clean bandage or cloth and elevate the injured limb until the bleeding stops.

3. If possible apply a topical antibiotic or petroleum jelly

Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly to keep the surface moist and prevent scarring. In the case of abrasions, this will reduce the burning. Be aware that certain ingredients in the ointment can cause a mild skin rash in some people. If so, stop using the ointment.

4. Cover the wound

Covering the wound keeps it clean. You can use a bandage, rolled gauze, or gauze with tape. If the wound is just a minor scratch or scrape, don’t cover it, so it will heal faster.


  • Change the dressing or bandage. Change it at least once a day or whenever the bandage gets wet or dirty
  • If you have cut or scraped with surfaces that are too dirty or metallic, or your wound is very deep, it is recommended that you get vaccinated against tetanus, but always consult your doctor.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of infection such as redness, increased pain, drainage, warmth or swelling, see your doctor

Blows and head injuries

One of the things about falling off your bike is that you can never know exactly how or where you are going to land. And you should know that the cycling helmet does not prevent brain contusion, in what it will help you is to avoid a head injury. It is very important to avoid hitting your head. But, if it’s too late and you hit your head:

1. Ask for help

It is best to keep the person immobile until medical help arrives. Keep the injured person lying down and calm, with their head and shoulders slightly elevated. Do not move the person unless necessary, and avoid moving the neck. If the person is wearing a helmet, do not remove it, especially if you suspect a skull fracture.

2. If you are certain that it is a minor injury (It does not present bleeding, decay, excoriation, etc.)

You can remove the helmet and sit or sit the injured person, without making sudden movements and hold something cold (drink, ice, etc.) wrapped in a clean cloth against the area of ​​the blow.

3. If there are signs of a head injury

If you have a wound, cracked or open on your scalp, wash with plenty of water and apply direct pressure to reduce bleeding, unless you suspect a skull fracture, in which case, do not apply pressure and wait for help of medical services.

4. Check that the injured person is conscious and attentive

Ask him some questions (like where he is, his name, the date, etc) and simple commands (move hands or legs, etc). If he responds appropriately, watch him until he recovers.

By not responding, or not being completely well, do not hesitate, call the medical services, in this case it is not recommended that you pedal to a hospital, so wait for help or to be transferred by other means.

Yes present any of these symptoms, ask for help from specialized personnel and do not move it or try to do any procedure.

  • Bleeding or fluid discharge from the nose or ears
  • Intense headache
  • Change in level of consciousness for more than a few seconds
  • Blue and black discoloration under the eyes or behind the ears
  • Difficulty breathing and even suffocation
  • Sleepiness, drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of balance
  • Weakness or inability to use an arm or leg
  • Pupils of unequal size
  • Babbling
  • Convulsions

Care after a blow to the head

Even a slight bump can cause persistent chronic symptoms, such as headaches or trouble concentrating. After suffering a blow to the head, a medical consultation for evaluation is recommended. It is common for the suspension of daily activities, in addition to cycling, to be prescribed to get enough rest and achieve a full recovery.

Joint dislocations 

This injury is usually caused by a high-speed fall or by a collision with a car or impact with a blunt object, resulting in the bone ends moving out of their normal position.

In cyclists, the dislocation generally involves the largest joints in the body, the shoulder being the most recurrent. This injury will temporarily deform and immobilize the damaged joint and cause pain as well as swelling, so you will need medical attention as soon as possible.

But if you are away from medical attention and you think you dislocated a joint:

1. Don’t move the joint

Splint or immobilize the affected joint in its fixed position. You can do it with bandages, a belt, a bicycle camera, or any object that allows you to firmly hold the injured joint.

2. Do not try to move the dislocated joint or put it back in place. 

This can damage the joint, muscles, ligaments, nerves, or blood vessels that surround it. Wait for this procedure to be attended to by qualified first responders.

3. Ice the injured joint 

This can help reduce swelling by controlling internal bleeding as well as fluid build-up in and around the injured joint.

4. Don’t delay in seeking medical attention 

Get immediate medical assistance.

Bone fractures

A break or crack in a bone is called a fracture. In more severe cases, fragments of broken bone can pierce the skin, called an exposed fracture. However, in most cases you cannot see a broken bone and this is called a closed fracture. In these cases, you will not see a tear in the skin, or blood, but the break may have caused internal bleeding.

To recognize a closed fracture, you should look for the following:

  • Swelling and bruising
  • Unusual shape in the painful area, i.e. some kind of lump and even right angles formed by the broken bone
  • Severe pain and extreme susceptibility to contact
  • Difficulty moving the affected area
  • Movement in an unnatural direction
  • A limb that looks shorter, crooked, or bent
  • A grinding noise or sensation if the limb is moved
  • Loss of strength
  • Signs of shock That is: if the injured person feels dizzy or has short, rapid breathing, they are in shock. Lay her down with her head slightly lower than her torso and, if possible, raise her legs

What to do in case of fracture

1. Keep the injured person as still as possible

It is important that the injured person does not try to move as this can cause further damage. If you are in an area where the person is in danger, move them carefully.

2. Immobilize the injured area

Hold the injured part and immobilize it, securing it to a part of the body that is not injured. Do not try to put the bone in its place if you lack the proper knowledge for such a procedure.

3. In case the fracture is exposed

If the bone has an exposed fracture and has broken the skin, use a sterile bandage to cover the wound (do not put pressure on it) and secure it with a bandage.

4. Seek specialized medical care

If the victim cannot walk, call the local emergency or medical services. Remember not to move the person unless they are in danger.

5. Check for signs of shock

Depending on the severity and type of fracture, the person may show signs of shock. Stay tuned.

6. Don’t elevate an injured limb

In the case of fractures, it is not advisable to elevate the injured limb. Simply immobilized and seek medical attention.

Sprains, sprains, and strains

Before we describe each of the cases.

Strain is : a muscle tear, a muscle pull from overuse, improper stretching, or overexertion.

What to do in case of bloating

1. Immediate rest of the injured muscle for repair.

2. Application of ice packs.

3. Then intermittent heat to increase circulation to the injured muscle.

Sprains and strains

They are injuries to the ligaments caused by undue twisting.

The joints most affected are generally:

  • Ankle
  • Doll
  • Knee

How to recognize

Severe pain, swelling, functional disability (movement with pain).

What to do in the event of a strain or sprain

1. Apply cold, ice.

2. Elevate the affected part.

3. Immobilization with a temporary splint.

4. Use of elastic bandage to reduce swelling and edema.

5. Apply pain relievers for pain.

As soon as possible, go to your doctor to assess you and help you recover completely and accurately.    


Dehydration occurs when the body does not have the necessary fluids for its proper functioning. It can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how much body fluid has been lost. Severe dehydration is a life-threatening emergency.


  • Poor hydration (not drinking enough fluids)
  • Excessive sweating, for example from pedaling in hot weather
  • Fever
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Urinating too much (uncontrolled diabetes or some medications, like diuretics, can cause you to urinate a lot)

Signs of mild or moderate dehydration:

  • Thirst
  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Not urinate a lot
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Cold and dry skin
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps

Signs of severe dehydration:

  • No urination or very dark yellow or amber urine
  • Dry and wrinkled skin
  • Irritability or confusion
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fast breathing
  • Hollow eyes
  • Apathy
  • Shock (insufficient blood flow through the body)
  • Unconsciousness or delirium

What to do in case of dehydration

1. Don’t try to drink a lot of water in one gulp.

2. Sip water or suck on ice cubes.

3. Drink water or sports drinks that contain electrolytes.

4. Once you are dehydrated, do not take mineral salt tablets. They can cause serious complications.

5. If there is an increase in body temperature, apply cold water cloths especially on the head. 

First aid kit for cyclists

If you’re on a road trip or just commuting to work or school, chances are you’re in an area where getting medical care will be quick and easy. Therefore, you may not need to bring a first aid kit with you, especially if you only have small pockets to store your most essential belongings.

However the mountain biker or cyclo traveler is more likely to be away from immediate help, so a basic first aid kit is a good idea. And since they have more space in their saddlebags, backpack or frame backpack, it is easy to carry a first aid kit with you.

This is what you should consider.

  • Cotton for healing
  • Hydrogen peroxide, merthiolate, iodine, 70% ethyl alcohol or any product for antiseptic and disinfectant use.  
  • Bandages
  • Elastic bandage of at least two different sizes
  • Gauze pack
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Micro-pore tape or medical grade adhesive
  • Sterilized gloves
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Paracetamol, ibuprofen and cetirizine
  • Burn ointment
  • Electrolyte envelope
  • Round tip scissors

Additional tips for cyclists

  • Always carry identification and a contact to call if necessary, it can be in your wallet or ideally it would be one of those plates that mount on nylon strap bracelets that even have a compass and an integrated flint. There are also plates with these data that are incorporated in a visible place on the helmet
  • Know the emergency numbers of your locality or the place where you are going to shoot
  • If you travel alone, never leave without telling someone your plans
  • Take a first aid course at your local Red Cross, although there are other types of institutions that also offer them 
  • Take a battery with you to charge your cell phone 
  • Download any of these applications for your smartphone (they are compatible with the two most common platforms: iOs, Android) that will help you either to follow instructions to give first aid or to communicate with emergency services in up to 200 countries and in 35 different languages: 

Red Cross  

Army First Aid

St John Ambulance First Aid

Help SOS – International 

Leave a Comment