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What are abrasions?

Abrasions, also known as scrapes and grazes, are open wounds that happen when the skin rubs against a rough surface. They tend to happen to the knees, elbows, ankles, shins, and upper extremities.

There are three different types of abrasions depending on how much they cut into the skin.

  • First-degree abrasions are everyday grazes and scrapes. They only harm the outer layer of the skin, known as the epidermis.
  • Second-degree abrasions can harm the second layer of the skin right underneath the epidermis, which is known as the dermis. These abrasions can include a mild amount of bleeding.
  • Third-degree abrasions are more severe and occur when the layer of tissue under the skin is also injured. Such abrasions need more intensive medical treatment.

Why are abrasions important in healthcare?

Abrasions are important in healthcare because they are a very common type of injury that people can get in a variety of ways, including minor scrapes, skidding, or having accidents. However, most everyday abrasions are minor and can be treated at home.

First aid for first and second-degree abrasions typically involves cleaning them, removing any debris using sterilized tweezers, and dressing the injury using a topical antibiotic as well as a bandage or gauze. More medical care may be required if the abrasion does not stop bleeding or if it has become infected.

Infected abrasions can create more serious medical complications. These abrasions may discharge a colored pus that has a bad smell. They may also create a fever or a painful lump in the armpit of the groin. In the worst case, infected abrasions may need surgery to remove the harmed portion of the skin.