Scrapes (abrasions) are skin wounds that rub or tear off skin. Most scrapes are shallow and do not extend far into the skin, but some may remove several layers of skin. Usually there is little bleeding from a scrape, but it may ooze pinkish fluid. Most scrapes are minor, so home treatment is usually all that is needed to care for the wound.
Scrapes occur most often in warm weather or warm climates when the skin on the arms and legs is more exposed. They are most commonly caused by accidents or falls but can occur anytime the skin is rubbed against a hard surface, such as the ground, a sidewalk, a carpet, or a road (road rash). School-age children ages 5 to 9 are most affected.
Scrapes can occur on any part of the body but usually affect bony areas, such as the hands, forearms, elbows, knees, or shins. Scrapes on the head or face may appear worse than they are and bleed a lot because of the ample blood supply to this area. Controlling the bleeding will allow you to determine the seriousness of the injury. Scrapes are usually more painful than cuts because scrapes tear a larger area of skin and expose more nerve endings
Symptoms of skin abrasions
- Bleeding where the skin is rubbed off
- Dirt or gravel may get into the wound.
Causes of Skin Abrasion
Scrapes are usually caused by falls onto the hands, knees, or elbows. This exposes nerve endings, all of which carry pain impulses to the brain. Because scrapes can affect so many nerve endings, they are usually much more painful than cuts. Although most abrasions and scrapes can be treated at home, you should call your doctor if they become infected.
Prevention of Skin Abrasion
Since most scrapes are caused by accidents or falls, it is difficult to prevent them. Some general safety tips may reduce your risk for injury.
- Pay close attention to what you are doing
- Know how to use objects properly
- Have good lighting so you can see what you are doing
- Prevent falls in your home by removing hazards that might cause a fall
- Wear gloves whenever possible to protect your hands
- Wear other safety gear, such as glasses or boots, as appropriate
- Wear protective gear, such as hand, wrist, elbow, or kneepads and helmets, during sports or recreation activities
- Store dangerous objects in secure places away from children
- Teach children about safety, and be a good role model.
Stop the bleeding . Minor cuts and scrapes usually stop bleeding on their own. If they don’t, apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth or bandage. Hold the pressure continuously for 20 to 30 minutes. Don’t keep checking to see if the bleeding has stopped because this may damage or dislodge the fresh clot that’s forming and cause bleeding to resume. If the blood spurts or continues to flow after continuous pressure, seek medical assistance.
Clean the wound . Rinse out the wound with clear water. Soap can irritate the wound, so try to keep it out of the actual wound. If dirt or debris remains in the wound after washing, use tweezers cleaned with alcohol to remove the particles. If debris remains embedded in the wound after cleaning, see your doctor. Thorough wound cleaning reduces the risk of tetanus. To clean the area around the wound, use soap and a washcloth. There’s no need to use hydrogen peroxide, iodine or an iodine-containing cleanser. These substances irritate living cells. If you choose to use them, don’t apply them directly on the wound.
Apply an antibiotic . After you clean the wound, apply a thin layer of an antibiotic cream or ointment to help keep the surface moist. The products don’t make the wound heal faster, but they can discourage infection and allow your body’s healing process to close the wound more efficiently. Certain ingredients in some ointments can cause a mild rash in some people. If a rash appears, stop using the ointment.
Cover the wound . Bandages can help keep the wound clean and keep harmful bacteria out. After the wound has healed enough to make infection unlikely, exposure to the air will speed wound healing.
Watch for signs of infection . See your doctor if the wound isn’t healing or you notice any redness, drainage, warmth or swelling.
Home Treatment of Skin Abrasion
- For minor scrapes and cuts all you need is soap and water . Clean the area and keep it clean. The cut will heal itself. You just have to keep the bacteria away.
- Scrapes can be very dirty. After you remove large pieces of debris with tweezers, and then scrub vigorously with soap and water and a washcloth. The injured person will probably complain loudly, but cleaning is necessary to prevent infection and scarring. If you have a water sprayer in your kitchen sink, try using that on the scrape with additional scrubbing.
- Ice may help reduce swelling and bruising.
- If the cut is deep, first clean the area and put garlic on it. Garlic contains an antibiotic, which will continue to kill bacteria and prevent infection.
- Hydrogen Peroxide is also a good remedy for killing bacteria on a scrape or cut.
- If you have any cream or lotion that contains Vitamin K , it will penetrate the skin encouraging the blood to be reabsorbed.
Many herbal and homeopathic remedies have been formulated with specific ingredients to encourage healing while helping to prevent scars and infection.
- Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) has been used for its ability to help keep wounds sterile and resistant to infection while soothing and comforting the skin.
- Agrimonia eupatoria (Agrimony), Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel) and Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) act as natural astringents that help to tighten and constrict tissues, lessening inflammation and helping to diminish blood loss. In addition, the natural properties of these ingredients assist with recovery and promote natural healing.
- You can also just cut open a fresh leaf from the aloe plant and smear the sticky liquid from this leaf over the wound.
- Thyme is a good antiseptic for abrasion cure.
- Make a mixture of comfrey, tea tree oil, and calendula to put on your abrasion. This will help treat and heal abrasion quickly.
When to call the doctor
- If the scrape is very large and dirty
- If you cannot remove dirt and debris embedded under the skin. They may cause tattooing or infection if not removed
- If signs of infection develop: increased pain, swelling, redness, or tenderness
- Heat or red streaks extending from the scrape
- Discharge of pus