What Is an Abrasion?

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Abrasions, scrapes, or grazes are superficial or surface-level skin wounds or injuries. Abrasions are typically not a cause for concern. In most cases, abrasions can be treated at home with minimal effort. There are, however, some cases where abrasions may require examination by a healthcare provider.

This article will cover what you need to know about skin abrasions, including how to treat skin abrasions at home and when to consider speaking with a healthcare provider. 

Father helping son with scraped knee

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Abrasions are a type of skin wound. There are two types of abrasions: Minor and deep.

Minor abrasions only affect the skin’s top layer and usually do not bleed. For these reasons, minor abrasions are considered superficial skin wounds and are easy to treat at home.

Deep abrasions, on the other hand, affect deeper layers of tissue. As a result, deeper abrasions may bleed, require medical treatment, and can leave a scar.


People experience an abrasion when skin is scraped or rubbed off.  This is a common occurrence people of all ages may experience. However, younger children and older adults may be more susceptible to abrasions due to differences in motor coordination at these life stages compared with middle years.

There are many potential causes of this type of injury, including:

  • Falling down onto a rough surface (e.g., ground, sidewalk, indoor playing field)
  • Repetitive wear-and-tear to skin
  • Banging up against a hard or uneven surface
  • Road rash
  • Impact or pressure from a hard or rough object


While scrapes are typically nothing to worry about, bear in mind when the skin has been broken, there is always some risk of infection. Reducing risk starts with treating the wound. 

The most important thing when treating skin abrasions at home is ensuring the wound, surrounding skin, and anything coming into contact with or near the open wound is clean. When treating abrasions in children, it’s suggested first to calm down your child and let them know you can help.

The remaining treatment notes can be applied to minor abrasions in people of all ages.

At-home treatment protocol:

  • Wash and dry your hands.
  • Wash the area with soap and water or saline solution. Never scrub the area.
  • Pat the area dry with a clean washcloth or towel.
  • Apply a thin layer of antiseptic lotion or petroleum jelly to the area. 
  • Cover the affected area with a non-stick bandage or gauze pad.
  • Check under the dressing daily but keep it clean and dry.
  • Change the dressing often.

What Not to Do

Although we may want to blow on wounds to ease the initial discomfort, it’s recommended that people avoid blowing on wounds. Experts say blowing on a wound can cause germs from your mouth to grow in the wound area. In addition, abrasions that are not well cleaned can cause scarring or infection.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

There are some cases in which you’ll want to consider seeing a healthcare provider for immediate or future assistance. Scenarios that call for medical attention include:

  • Bleeding won’t stop, even after 15 minutes of applied pressure
  • There are pieces of rock, glass, gravel, etc., stuck in the wound.
  • The abrasion is on someone under the age of 1 
  • Pain is severe and unmanageable with over-the-counter (OTC) medication
  • The wound isn’t healing within 10 days
  • You suspect infection

Signs of Skin Infection

If you have the following symptoms, you may have a skin infection and should seek medical care:

  • Redness or heat around the abrasion
  • A red streak stemming from the abrasion
  • Increased swelling or pain 
  • White, yellow, or green liquid coming from the wound
  • Fever


Abrasions are minor or deep skin injuries caused by scraping or rubbing. Most minor abrasions can be treated at home, while deeper ones may need immediate medical care. In either case, there’s always some risk of infection when the skin is broken. Treatment includes cleaning the wound, applying ointment, and changing the bandage often. Excessive bleeding or signs of infection like wound-area redness and heat or fever are reasons to seek help from a healthcare provider. 

A Word From Verywell

We all experience minor injuries from time to time, but they're usually not cause for concern. They can be cleaned and treated at home quickly and easily. However, keep an eye on any abrasions you may have as they heal, and don't hesitate to reach out to a healthcare provider if you suspect an infection.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Winchester Hospital. Skin wound

  2. World Health Organization (Europe). How can injuries in children and older people be prevented?

  3. John Hopkins Medicine. Abrasions

  4. Intermountain Healthcare. 4 steps to treat abrasions at home.

  5. Seattle Children’s. Scrape.

  6. Nemours Kids Health. Cuts, scratches, and scrapes. 

By Michelle Pugle
Michelle Pugle, BA, MA, is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of contributing accurate and accessible health news and information to authority websites and print magazines. Her work focuses on lifestyle management, chronic illness, and mental health. Michelle is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: A Memoir From an Anorexic Teen Mind.