Can I Get a Burn from a Motorcycle Exhaust?

An internal combustion engine produces lots of heat. Some of it is contained in the cylinder, and some gets pushed out of the engine in the form of hot exhaust gas. 

Motorcycle exhaust pipe leg

That gas can heat up an exhaust pipe to several hundred degrees, which can lead to burns on the skin. And it can happen easily: just getting on or off the bike or doing a little maintenance after your bike has been running can get you exhaust burns. So how do you treat it? It depends on the burn, but it’s always a good idea to have a medical professional check it out.

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How to Treat Minor Motorcycle Exhaust Burns

The most common area where you might get burned by an exhaust pipe is on your calf. It sits only a few inches from the exhaust when you’re riding a motorcycle, so one wrong move can get your calf burned. 

Motorcycle exhaust calf burn

First, get some cool water on the burn. Cold water or ice is bad, so just cool tap water will do the trick. Rinse the burn for a few minutes to get out any dirt that may have transferred from the exhaust pipe to your skin. The water also helps soothe the pain.

Next, pat the burn lightly with a sterile cloth, like a gauze pad, to get it dry. If the burn just stings a little during this part, you’re probably fine. However, if patting the burn dry is extremely painful, seek immediate medical assistance. Next, use some antiseptic and bandage it up. If it’s a minor burn, just repeat this for a couple of days and you should be OK. 

More Severe Motorcycle Exhaust Burns

If your burn starts swelling or produces blisters, it’s a more severe burn. You’ll still want to get it under some cool water, and don’t pop the blisters. 

Severe motorcycle leg burn

Those blisters actually protect the burned area, but you’ll want to seek out medical assistance regardless. It might be a good idea to get a tetanus shot as well, because road grime from the exhaust can really get into the skin and infect it.  The most severe burns happen after a motorcycle crash or when the skin has a long exposure to the exhaust. These situations require immediate medical assistance. 

Motorcycle accident exhaust leg burn

If the skin looks charred or there is burnt clothing around the wound, try not to move nor remove the clothing, which can actually fuse with the burn and make it extremely painful to get out. In these cases, call an ambulance immediately. While you’re waiting for an ambulance, elevate the burned area above your heart.

Motorcycle exhaust skin burn treatment

Whether it’s a minor burn that just requires a little water, antiseptic and some gauze, or a more severe burn, get immediate medical assistance just to be safe.



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