How to Care for Skin Abrasions
Skin abrasions are injuries to the top layer of the skin. They occur when the skin is scraped away due to friction against a rough surface, such as wood or concrete. Depending on the severity of the skin abrasion, the wound may bleed or scar. Most abrasions affect the knees, shoulders and elbows because these areas have less protective padding and because they are more likely to come into contact with the ground during falls.
Press down on the abrasion with a towel or other cloth to control any bleeding. Bleeding of skin abrasions is rarely significant, and firm pressure on the wound for five minutes is typically sufficient to stop bleeding completely, according to The Merck Manuals, an online medical library. Whenever possible, lift bleeding abrasions above the heart.
Flush the abrasion with clean, warm water to remove any gravel, sand or other debris. The wound may sting upon contact with water. Once the wound is clear of any foreign particles, wash it gently with mild soap and water.
Spray the wound and surrounding skin with an anesthetic spray to reduce pain and make cleaning the wound tolerable. You can buy these sprays in most pharmacies and retail stores.
Remove any splinters or trapped particles with sterile tweezers. Leaving dirt or debris inside the wound increases the risk of infection and scarring. Sterilize metal tweezers by pouring rubbing alcohol over them.
Apply an antibiotic ointment directly to the abrasion. This will reduce the risk of infection and lubricate the wound so that your dressings do not adhere to it. Cover the skin abrasion with a non-stick, sterile gauze pad.
Change the bandage when it becomes wet, soiled, bloody or before going to bed at night. Bleeding that continues for more than 24 hours may indicate a serious injury that requires medical attention.
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