An abrasion is a cut or a scrape on the outer surface of the skin. An abrasion does not go through all the layers of the skin. It is important to care for your abrasion properly to prevent infection.
What are the causes?
This condition is caused by falling on or gliding across the ground or another surface. When your skin rubs on something, the outer and inner layers of skin may rub off.
What are the signs or symptoms?
The main symptom of this condition is a cut or a scrape. The scrape may be bleeding, or it may appear red or pink. If the abrasion was caused by a fall, there may be a bruise under the cut or scrape.
How is this diagnosed?
An abrasion is diagnosed with a physical exam.
How is this treated?
Treatment for this condition depends on how large and deep the abrasion is. In most cases:
- Your abrasion will be cleaned with water and mild soap. This is done to remove any dirt or debris (such as particles of glass or rock) that may be stuck in the wound.
- An antibacterial agent may be applied to the abrasion to help prevent infection.
- A bandage (dressing) may be placed on the abrasion to keep it clean.
You may also need a tetanus shot.
Follow these instructions at home:
- Take or apply over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your healthcare provider.
- If you were prescribed an antibiotic medicine, apply it as told by your healthcare provider.
- Clean the wound 2–3 times a day, or as directed by your healthcare provider. To do this, wash the wound with mild soap and water, rinse off the soap, and pat the wound dry with a clean towel. Do not rub the wound.
- Keep the dressing clean and dry as told by your health care provider.
- There are many different ways to close and cover a wound. Follow instructions from your health care provider about:
- Caring for your wound.
- Changing and removing your dressing. You may have to change your dressing one or more times a day, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Check your wound every day for signs of infection. Check for:
- Redness, particularly a red streak that spreads out from the wound.
- Swelling or increased pain.
- Fluid, pus, or a bad smell.
- Do not take baths, swim, or use a hot tub until your healthcare provider says it is okay to do so.
- If possible, raise (elevate) the injured area above the level of your heart while you are sitting or lying down. This will reduce pain and swelling.
- Keep all follow-up visits as directed by your healthcare provider. This is important.
Contact a healthcare provider if:
- You received a tetanus shot, and you have swelling, severe pain, redness, or bleeding at the injection site.
- Your pain is not controlled with medicine.
- You have redness, swelling, or more pain at the site of your wound.
Get help right away if:
- You have a red streak spreading away from your wound.
- You have a fever.
- You have fluid, blood, or pus coming from your wound.
- You notice a bad smell coming from your wound or your dressing.
- An abrasion is a cut or a scrape on the outer surface of the skin. An abrasion does not go through all the layers of the skin.
- Care for your abrasion properly to prevent infection.
- Clean the wound with mild soap and water 2–3 times a day. Follow instructions from your health care provider about taking medicines and changing your bandage (dressing).
- Contact your health care provider if you have redness, swelling or more pain in the wound area.
- Get help right away if you have a fever or if you have fluid, blood, pus, a bad smell, or a red streak coming from the wound.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.
Dabiri G., et. al.: Choosing a wound dressing based on common wound characteristics. Adv. Wound Care (New Rochelle) 2016; 5: pp. 32-41.
Foster D.T., Rowedder L.J., Reese S.K.: Management of sports-induced skin wounds. J Athl Train 1995; 30: pp. 135-140.
Serra M.B., et. al.: From inflammation to current and alternative therapies involved in wound healing. Int. J. Inflam. 2017; pp. 3406215.
Sood A., et. al.: Wound dressings and comparative effectiveness data. Adv. Wound Care (New Rochelle) 2014; 3: pp. 511-529.
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