Airbag Dermatitis

What is Airbag Dermatitis?

Airbag dermatitis is the result of the damage caused to the skin by the deployment of an airbag in a vehicle collision. The harsh impact of the airbag has a tendency to cause localized trauma, and the sheer speed at which the airbag has to deploy means that the surface tends to be quite abrasive. It is important to understand that airbags are not meant to cushion an impact, but rather are intended to prevent any motion at all during a conclusion. Consequently, they are much more firm than they are frequently thought of as being, and can cause quite painful skin damage.

Who gets Airbag Dermatitis?

Airbag dermatitis afflicts only those who have suffered a car crash in which the airbag deployed. Individuals in cars without airbags are, of course, not at risk for this. However, any individual in a vehicle at the time of conclusion in a seat protected by an airbag may find that their skin suffers for it afterward.

Individuals with thinner or more sensitive skin are more likely to suffer from airbag dermatitis. Those with thin skin will likely suffer swelling and pain from the trauma, and those with more sensitive skin may find that the abrasion affects them more adversely.

What causes Airbag Dermatitis?

Airbag dermatitis is caused by airbag impact following a collision. In an automobile collision that causes airbags to deploy, the airbag will almost inevitably impact the passengers, and hard. Airbags are commonly thought of as soft, or pillowy. This is, however, not the case. Airbags do not deploy to cushion impacts during a collision. They deploy, rapidly, to prevent any motion by those caught in the crash. This keeps them from being jerked around in their seats and can prevent the breaking of bones or worse. However, this merely results in a lesser impact to contend with: airbags punch you in the face to prevent your being crushed by a car. Airbags frequently result in black eyes and have also been known to go so far as to break collarbones—a small price to pay to prevent a trip to the dashboard with heavy inertia.

The swift deployment of the airbag causes it to graze harshly against the skin at the same time it causes impact. Additionally, deployment impacts the skin. The grazing can abrase and irritate the skin like rough clothing, while the impact can traumatize the skin, breaking capillaries near the surface and causing painful swelling.

What does Airbag Dermatitis cause?

Airbag dermatitis causes varying degrees of discomfort which only compound the other issues (among them whiplash and bruising) that can accompany a car wreck.

Airbag dermatitis comes from two primary sources. The first is the abrasion that can be caused by the airbag itself. Because the airbag inflates very quickly, even the smooth surface it possesses doesn’t exempt it from possibly causing damage through friction. This will probably not damage the surface of the skin, but will still be painful to an extent, like any friction burn.

The second component is the trauma that the skin may suffer from the impact of the airbag. Airbags are not soft, and their expansion can cause significant damage. It is not unheard of for individuals to suffer from black eyes and even broken bones due to the impact of an airbag in a vehicular collision. Consequently, the impact to the surface of the skin can be fairly damaging, resulting in ruptured capillaries, bruising and painful swelling.

With these two elements combined, airbag dermatitis manages to be a very painful nuisance. While it is generally a far less serious condition relative to what a car wreck can do, it is

How serious is Airbag Dermatitis?

Airbag dermatitis can be a serious nuisance, but it is not exceptionally serious. The effects of airbag dermatitis inevitably pale in comparison to the other effects of the car wreck, even if the airbags should deploy and prevent most of the possible harm. Airbag dermatitis has a tendency to be the cap on a stack of other complications that take precedence over airbag dermatitis; while airbag dermatitis can be painful, whiplash can be far more painful. The cause of airbag dermatitis in the form of a vehicular collision is very serious, but this is a separate issue. Relative to many of the possible outcomes of a car crash, airbag dermatitis is very far down on the list of possible concerns.

In a worst-case scenario, the swelling of the skin caused by airbag dermatitis may leave it open to mechanical excoriation—that is, scratching—and the resulting open sore may become infected. Of course, this is not common; it is merely a possible concern.

What does Airbag Dermatitis treatment look like?

Treatment for airbag dermatitis is a simple matter of treating any discomfort the patient should feel. Individuals suffering from swelling due to impact trauma will likely be prescribed or recommended anti-inflammatories. Individuals suffering from extended pain due to impact or abrasion will likely be prescribed or recommended analgesics. For more serious cases, a topical agent may be prescribed to aid with any swelling and to promote healing. Most of the treatment will almost certainly be focused on the other issues progenated by the crash, however. Airbag dermatitis is almost always the least of concerns with respect to car accident injuries.

How do I know if I have Airbag Dermatitis?

Airbag dermatitis is easily identifiable by its manifestation on the skin following a vehicular collision in which the airbag deployed. It is almost impossible to mistake due to its very clear cause; airbag impact causes airbag dermatitis. It may be wise to speak to a medical professional to seek treatment, although this is a step that is likely to have been taken already following the collision. It may also be necessary to examine the rash to determine what treatment would be most effective if the discomfort is enough to warrant treatment.

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