Scrapes (Abrasions): Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Scrapes (abrasions) are wounds where your skin has been rubbed or torn off. Most scrapes do not go deep into the skin, but some may remove several layers of skin.

Scrapes usually don't bleed much, but they may ooze pinkish fluid. Scrapes on the head or face may appear worse than they are. They may bleed a lot because of the good blood supply to this area.

Most scrapes heal well and may not need a bandage. They usually heal within 3 to 7 days. A large, deep scrape may take 1 to 2 weeks or longer to heal. A scab may form on some scrapes.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your doctor told you how to care for your wound, follow your doctor's instructions. If you did not get instructions, follow this general advice:
    • Wash the scrape with clean water 2 times a day. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
    • You may cover the scrape with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, and a non-stick bandage.
    • Apply more petroleum jelly and replace the bandage as needed.
  • Prop up the sore area on a pillow anytime you sit or lie down during the next 3 days. Try to keep it above the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness around the scrape.
    • Red streaks leading from the scrape.
    • Pus draining from the scrape.
    • A fever.
  • The scrape starts to bleed, and blood soaks through the bandage. Oozing small amounts of blood is normal.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if the scrape is not getting better each day.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: March 20, 2017