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 happen most often in warm weather or warm climates, when the skin on the arms and legs is more exposed. They are most often caused by accidents or falls. But they can occur anytime the skin is rubbed against a hard surface, such as the ground, a sidewalk, a carpet, an artificial playing surface, or a road (road rash). School-age children 5 to 9 years old are most affected.
Scrapes can happen on any part of the body, but they usually affect bony areas, such as the hands, forearms, elbows, knees, or shins. Scrapes on the head or face may look worse than they are and may bleed a lot because of the good blood supply to these areas. Controlling the bleeding will help you to see how serious the injury is. Scrapes are usually more painful than cuts. That's because scrapes tear a larger area of skin and expose more nerve endings.
How a scrape heals depends on how deep it is, how large it is, and where it is on your body. Sometimes the injury that caused the scrape also causes one or more cuts that may need to be treated by a doctor.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Some types of facial wounds are more likely to leave a scar than others. These include:
Stitches or other treatment may help prevent scarring. It's best to get treated within 8 hours of the injury.
With severe bleeding, any of these may be true:
With moderate bleeding, any of these may be true:
With mild bleeding, any of these may be true:
Pain in adults and older children
Pain in children under 3 years
It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.
Usually found in dirt and soil, tetanus bacteria typically enter the body through a wound. Wounds may include a bite, a cut, a puncture, a burn, a scrape, insect bites, or any injury that may cause broken skin.
You may need a tetanus shot depending on how dirty the wound is and how long it has been since your last shot.
Symptoms of infection may include:
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in adults are:
To clean a wound well:
If a chemical has caused a wound or burn, follow the instructions on the chemical's container or call Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) to find out what to do. Most chemicals should be rinsed off with lots of water, but with some chemicals, water may make the burn worse.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call 911 or other emergency services now.
Put direct, steady pressure on the wound until help arrives. Keep the area raised if you can.
Sometimes people don't want to call 911. They may think that their symptoms aren't serious or that they can just get someone else to drive them. Or they might be concerned about the cost. But based on your answers, the safest and quickest way for you to get the care you need is to call 911 for medical transport to the hospital.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Minor scrapes can be treated at home. Home treatment can prevent infection and promote healing. How a scrape heals depends on how deep it is, how large it is, and where it is on your body.
Try these tips for treating a scrape.
Apply direct pressure to the wound.
Nonprescription products can be applied to the skin to help stop mild bleeding of minor cuts, lacerations, or scrapes. Before you buy or use these products, be sure to read the label carefully. Follow the label's instructions when you apply the product.
A scrape may continue to ooze small amounts of blood for up to 24 hours. It may ooze clear, yellowish, or blood-tinged fluid for several days.
This lowers the chance of infection, scarring, and "tattooing." (If dirt or other debris is not removed from a scrape, the new skin will heal over it. The dirt can then be seen through the skin and may look like a tattoo.)
These tissues include blood vessels, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, bones, and internal organs.
Most scrapes heal well and may not need a bandage. You may need to protect the scrape from dirt or irritation. Be sure to clean the scrape thoroughly before bandaging it. Cleaning reduces the chance that you'll get an infection under the bandage. Scrapes may heal with or without forming a scab.
If you use a bandage:
Prop up the injured area on a pillow anytime you sit or lie down. Try to keep the area at or above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
If you are concerned that the injury is more serious, you may need to be checked by a doctor to see if you need stitches or a tetanus shot.
To decide if you need a tetanus shot after a wound, first decide if the object that caused the wound was dirty or clean. An object is dirty if it has dirt, soil, spit, or feces on it. A clean object does not have dirt, soil, spit, or feces on it.
You will need a tetanus shot if:
If you need a tetanus shot, call your doctor to arrange for a shot.
Some people may need tetanus immunoglobulin (IG) for a wound that is at high risk for developing tetanus. The immunoglobulin is usually only needed if you have not (or do not know if you have) completed the tetanus primary vaccination series.
Call a doctor if any of the following occur during self-care at home:
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.