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What is an abrasion?

An abrasion is a superficial rub or wearing off of the skin, usually caused by a scrape or a "brush burn." Abrasions are usually minor injuries that can be treated at home. The skin may bleed or drain small amounts at the time of the injury.

First-aid for abrasions

  • Calm your child and let him or her know you can help.

  • Wash your hands well.

  • Wash the abraded area well with soap and water, but do not scrub the wound. Remove any dirt particles from the area and let the water from the faucet run over it for several minutes. A dirty abrasion that is not well cleaned can cause scarring.

  • Apply an antiseptic lotion or cream.

  • Cover the area with an adhesive bandage or gauze pad if the area is on the hands or feet, or if it is likely to drain onto clothing. Change the dressing often.

  • Check the area each day and keep it clean and dry.

  • Avoid blowing on the abrasion, as this can cause germs to grow.

When should I call my child's doctor?

Specific treatment for skin wounds will be determined by your child's doctor. In general, call your child's physician for abrasions that:

  • Are located close to the eye or on the face.

  • Are embedded with debris, such as dirt, stones, or gravel.

  • Show signs of infection, such as increased warmth, redness, swelling, or drainage.

  • Cover a large area of the body (such as the chest or back or an entire limb).

Online Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians  http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/healthy/firstaid/after-injury/041.html
American Academy of Pediatrics  http://www.healthychildren.org/english/health-issues/injuries-emergencies/pages/acute-bleeding.aspx
American Academy of Pediatrics  http://www.healthychildren.org/english/health-issues/injuries-emergencies/pages/treating-cuts.aspx
American Academy of Pediatrics  http://www.healthychildren.org/english/tips-tools/symptom-checker/pages/skin-injury-cuts-scrapes-bruises.aspx
Merck Manuals Online Library  http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec24/ch299/ch299f.html

© 2000-2011 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.