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Scrapes (cont.)

Check Your Symptoms

Home Treatment

Minor scrapes can be treated effectively at home. Home treatment can prevent infection and promote healing. If you do not have a high risk for infection, do not have other injuries, and do not need a tetanus shot or an evaluation by a doctor, you can clean and bandage a scrape at home. How a scrape heals depends on the depth, size, and location of the scrape.

Bleeding

Stop the bleeding with direct pressure to the wound. For more information, see how to stop bleedingClick here to see an illustration..

Nonprescription products can be applied to the skin to help stop mild bleeding of minor cuts, lacerations, or abrasions. Before you buy or use a nonprescription product, be sure to read the label carefully and follow the label's instructions when you apply the product.

After you have stopped the bleeding, check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.

A scrape may continue to ooze small amounts of blood for up to 24 hours and may ooze clear, yellowish, or blood-tinged fluid for several days.

Cleaning the wound

Clean the wound as soon as possible to reduce the chance of infection, scarring, and "tattooing." (If dirt or other debris is not removed from a scrape, the new skin will heal over it. The dirt can then be seen through the skin and may look like a tattoo.)

  • Use a large amount of water under moderate pressure (faucet at least halfway open). Washing the wound will remove as much dirt, debris, and bacteria as possible, which will reduce the risk of infection.
  • If you have a water sprayer in your kitchen sink, try using the sprayer to wash the wound. This usually removes most of the dirt and other objects from the wound. Avoid getting any spray from the wound into your eyes. It may be easier to rinse a large, dirty scrape in the shower.
  • Wash the wound for 5 minutes with large amounts of clean, running water and soap. Mild dishwashing soap, such as Ivory, works well. For more information, see how to clean a wound. Some nonprescription products are available for wound cleaning that numb the area so cleaning doesn't hurt as much. Be sure to read the product label for correct use.
  • Scrub gently with a washcloth. Moderate scrubbing may be needed if the wound is very dirty. Scrubbing your scrape will probably hurt and may increase bleeding, but it is necessary to clean the wound thoroughly.
  • Do not use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or Mercurochrome, which can harm the tissue and slow healing.
  • For splinter removal, see removing splinters.

Stitches, staples, or skin adhesives (also called liquid stitches)

Determine whether your wound needs to be treated by a doctor. Scrapes usually do not need to be closed with stitches, staples, or skin adhesives. But sometimes you will have a deep cut along with a scrape. For more information, see are stitches, staples, or skin adhesives necessary?

Consider applying a bandage

Most scrapes heal well and may not need a bandage. You may wish to protect the scrape from dirt or irritation. It is important to clean the scrape thoroughly before bandaging it to reduce the risk of infection occurring under the bandage. Scrapes may heal with or without forming a scab.

  • Select the bandage carefully. There are many products available. Liquid skin bandages and moisture enhancing bandages are available with other first aid products. Before you buy or use one, be sure to read the label carefully and follow the label's instructions when you apply the bandage.
  • If you use a cloth-like bandage, apply a clean bandage when your bandage gets wet or soiled to further help prevent infection. If a bandage is stuck to a scab, soak it in warm water to soften the scab and make the bandage easier to remove. If available, use a nonstick dressing. There are many bandage products available. Be sure to read the product label for correct use.
  • Watch for signs of infection. If you have an infection under a bandage, a visit to your doctor may be needed.
  • An antibiotic ointment, such as polymyxin B sulfate (for example, Polysporin) or bacitracin, will keep the bandage from sticking to the wound. Apply the ointment lightly to the wound. Antibiotic ointments have not been shown to improve healing. Be sure to read the product label about skin sensitivity. If you have a skin rash or itching under the bandage, stop using the ointment. The rash may be caused by an allergic reaction to the ointment.

Tetanus

  • Determine whether you need a tetanus shot.
  • You may have a localized reaction to a tetanus shot. Symptoms include warmth, swelling, and redness at the injection site. A fever of up to 100°F (37.8°C) may occur. Home treatment can help reduce the discomfort.

Swelling, bruising, and pain relief

An ice or cold pack may help reduce swelling and bruising. Never apply ice directly to a wound or the skin. This could cause tissue damage.

Elevate the injured area on pillows while applying ice and anytime you are sitting or lying down. Try to keep the area at or above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.

Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:

Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

Symptoms to Watch For During Home Treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

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