Also known as: scrape, rub, skinned.

What is an abrasion?

An abrasion is the medical term for a minor superficial scrape of the skin. Examples include a skinned elbow, a rash from rubbing the skin against a rough surface like tarmac (road rash), gravel or a coarse rug. They may be small or large and have a variety of shapes.

What causes abrasion? 

Coming in contact with any rough surface can result in the top layers of the skin being damaged and peeling off. They can be a feature from falling while “playing” with other children, accidents, other injury or from a fall related to sports participation.

What are the symptoms of abrasion? 

An abrasion often causes a red patch on the skin, which may ooze fluid and may be painful or bleed. An abrasion may scab over as it heals, which usually takes 3-7 days but may take longer.

What are abrasion care options? 

Abrasions should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and cool water (do not scrub) particularly well if dirt, stones or gravel need to be removed (a dirty abrasion may become infected or scar on healing). Daily application of an antibiotic ointment/lotion or cream on/or covered by an adhesive bandage or gauze (particularly if on the hands or feet or likely to become contaminated by clothing) is beneficial. 

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Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 3/23/2018 2:17:59 PM