Definition

What is an Abrasion?

An abrasion is a type of open wound that’s caused by the skin rubbing against a rough surface. It may be called a scrape or a graze. When an abrasion is caused by the skin sliding across hard ground, it may be called road rash.

Abrasions can be painful, since they sometimes expose many of the skin’s nerve endings. However, they don’t typically cause much bleeding. Most abrasions can be treated at home.

Abrasions aren’t usually as serious as laceration or incision wounds. These are cuts that typically affect deeper skin layers. They may cause intense bleeding and require medical care.

How common are Abrasions?

Abrasions are very common injuries. They can range from mild to severe. Abrasions are most likely to occur on the:

  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Shins
  • Ankles
  • Upper extremities

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of an Abrasion?

Abrasions can range from mild to severe. Symptoms depend on the types.

  • First-degree abrasion. A first-degree abrasion involves superficial damage to the epidermis. The epidermis is the first, or most superficial, layer of skin. A first-degree abrasion is considered mild. It won’t bleed. First-degree abrasions are sometimes called scrapes or grazes.
  • Second-degree abrasion. A second-degree abrasion results in damage to the epidermis as well as the dermis. The dermis is the second layer of skin, just below the epidermis. A second-degree abrasion may bleed mildly.
  • Third-degree abrasion. A third-degree abrasion is a severe abrasion. It’s also known as an avulsion wound. It involves friction and tearing of the skin to the layer of tissue deeper than the dermis. An avulsion may bleed heavily and require more intense medical care.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Bleeding doesn’t stop after at least five minutes of pressure
  • Bleeding is severe, or profuse
  • A violent or traumatic accident caused the wound

See a doctor immediately if you suspect your wound has become infected. Infections that are left untreated can spread and lead to much more serious medical conditions.

Your doctor will be able to clean and bandage the wound. They can also prescribe oral or topical antibiotic therapy to treat the infection. In extreme cases, surgical removal of the skin and adjacent area may be necessary.

Causes

What causes an Abrasion?

Most often simply a minor injury, an abrasion is caused when your skin comes into contact with any rough or rigged surface, almost always with some sort of movement. Whether you’re running and you fall or a moving object collides with you, if there is damage to outer layers of your skin, then you have suffered an abrasion.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for an Abrasion?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is an Abrasion diagnosed?

An abrasion can be diagnosed with a physical exam.

How is an Abrasion treated?

Conventional treatment of abrasions includes treating the area by cleaning the wound with mild soap and water or a mild antiseptic wash and then covering the area with an antibiotic ointment and a dry dressing.

While a severe abrasion should be seen and cleaned by a physician, you can do some things to promote healing. First, because abrasions can easily become infected, you should clean the area thoroughly and remove any dirt and debris. Ideally, you want to irrigate the area with a nontoxic surfactant such as 0.9 sodium chloride or Shur-Clens with a bit of pressure (use a syringe if possible). The area must be completely clean. If necessary, use a clean gauze to gently scrub the area. Do not scrub vigorously, as this can cause more tissue damage.

After the area is cleaned, use a semipermeable dressing to cover the wound, and attach the dressing to dry, healthy skin with adhesive tape. The dressing should be changed every few days. Keep the wound moist until it has healed. A moist environment promotes healing, improves tissue formation and protects the area from infection and scarring.

After an abrasion, you should get a tetanus shot it you are uncertain when you had your last one or if your last booster was more than 10 years ago. Tetanus is an acute infectious disease in which the voluntary muscles go into spasm. Spores of the bacteria that produce tetanus toxin are naturally present in the environment, so any dirt or debris in torn flesh like an abrasion carries the risk of developing tetanus.

After an abrasion, the layers of damaged skin will heal from the deeper layers to the surface layers and from the outer edges to the center. As healing begins, the area of the abrasion may look pink and raw, but in time, the wound will form new skin that is pink and smooth. Once it is healed, stop using any antibiotic applications and instead use regular moisturizing cream to keep the skin soft.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage an Abrasion?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with an Abrasion:

  • Treat the wound right away to reduce your risk for scarring.
  • Make sure to keep the wound clean.
  • Avoid picking at the affected area as it heals.

Awareness of the severity of the wound and proper care can help prevent scarring, infection, and further injury.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

 

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: August 23, 2018 | Last Modified: August 23, 2018

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