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, an artificial playing
surface, or a road (road rash). School-age children ages 5 to 9 are most
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 good 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
How a scrape heals
depends on the depth, size, and location of the scrape. Occasionally the injury
that caused the scrape will also have caused a cut or several cuts that may
need to be treated by a doctor. For more information, see the topic
When you have a scrape:
- Stop the bleeding with direct pressure to
the wound. For more information, see
how to stop bleeding .
- Determine whether other tissues, such as
blood vessels, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, bones, or internal organs,
have been injured.
- Determine whether evaluation and treatment by a
doctor is needed.
- Clean the wound and remove any dirt or debris to
prevent infections (both bacterial skin infections and
tetanus, or lockjaw), decrease scarring, and prevent
"tattooing" of the skin. (If dirt or other debris is not removed from a scrape,
the new skin heals over it. The dirt can then be seen through the skin and
often looks like a tattoo.)
- Determine if you need a
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you
should see a doctor.