Skin abrasions: Proper care for wounds

Skin abrasions involves damage to the upper skin layer. It occurs when the skin is scrubbed away due to resistance against rough surfaces such as concrete or wood.

Depending on the severity of the abrasion, the wound might bleed or scar. In most cases of skin abrasions, they occur in the knees, elbows and shoulders since these areas have reduced protective padding and likely exposed to the ground during falls.

How to care for skin abrasions


Press down on the abrasion using a cloth or towel to control the bleeding.

  • Press down on the abrasion using a cloth or towel to control the bleeding. The bleeding of the abrasions is seldom severe and the application of fixed pressure on the wound for 5 minutes is enough to control the bleeding. If possible, raise the affected limb above the level of the heart.
  • Flush the abrasion with warm, clean water to get rid of any debris. The wound might initially sting upon exposure to water. When the break in the skin is clear from any foreign particles, gently wash it using water and mild soap.
  • Spray the wound and nearby skin with an anesthetic spray to lessen the pain and make the cleaning process tolerable.
  • If there are any splinters or trapped particles, remove them using tweezers. Any leftover debris or dirt within skin abrasions increases the risk for infection and scarring. You should clean tweezers by immersing in rubbing alcohol.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment on the abrasion. This lessens the risk for infection as well as lubricate the wound so that the dressings will not adhere to it. Wrap the skin using a non-adhesive, sterile gauze padding.
  • Change the bandage once it is soiled, wet or drenched in blood before bedtime. If the bleeding persists longer than 24 hours, it indicates a severe injury that necessitates medical care.

Remember that skin abrasions should not be touched or remove any scabs that form on the skin surface. Doing so increases the risk for infection and can lead to scarring.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on skin abrasions is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage this type of wound, register for a first aid and CPR course with Vancouver First Aid.


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