Air Bags and the Skin

Monica Corazza, MD; Silvana Trincone, MD; Maria Rosaria Zampino, MD; Annarosa Virgili, MD

In This Article

Traumatic Lesions: Abrasions, Lacerations, and Friction Burns

Traumatic injuries are caused by the sudden expansion and consequent impact of the inflated bag. Wrists and forearms may become trapped between the chest and the steering mechanism during air bag deployment. Similarly, head, face, and neck abrasion or contusion could occur. Laceration and fracture of the hands may also occur due to the impact from bag opening.[7]

Numerous authors report so-called friction burns, particularly on the face.[8,9,10,11,12] These lesions are probably caused by the slapping action of the bag as it unfolds. The friction burns appear as numerous, fine, parallel superficial erosions on an erythematous base. They are always superficial, but may require up to a fortnight to heal.