In the field of medicine, the word “Abrasion” can be described as a wound or an injury that causes superficial damage to your skin. Since it only affects the uppermost layer of your skin, an abrasion usually goes no deeper than the epidermis. Many people believe that an abrasion is the same as a laceration, but this is not true. Abrasions are a lot less severe, as compared to most other types of skin injuries and wounds, including a laceration. There are different types of abrasions that you may go through at some point or the other and the severity of each type may vary. Medical experts usually classify the types of abrasion, by degrees, to include:

  • First degree abrasions, which involve no more than epidermal injury to the skin.
  • Second degree abrasions, in which the epidermis, as well as the dermis get affected. There may be a small amount of bleeding that is evident with such abrasions.
  • Third degree abrasions, where the damage involves the subcutaneous layer, as well as the skin.

In some instances, abrasions have also been known to bleed a bit or leave scars. Mild abrasions are very common in children as well as in adults. In fact, most children tend to incur these milder abrasions like scrapes or grazes on a daily basis, while playing or performing their everyday activities. Fortunately, such abrasions neither have the tendency to scar, nor bleed and they require minimal care. While the milder abrasions may cause some amount of pain and discomfort, they usually heal on their own, within a few days or weeks at the most, depending upon their severity. However, in some cases, you may notice the formation of a scar on your skin, especially if the abrasion is too deep. At times, an abrasion can be so deep and severe it can remove all the layers of your skin. Such severe abrasions are known as avulsions.

Symptoms of Abrasions

Since abrasions are relatively shallow wounds on the skin, they are noticeable almost immediately, especially since they may be accompanied by pain in some cases. However, it is quite common for a person to confuse an abrasion with a cut, or other similar skin wounds, mainly because the signs and symptoms for abrasions are not exclusive. Some of the symptoms for abrasions are actually common to other skin-related bruises too. Given below are some of the milder symptoms for abrasions on the skin:

  • Pain and swelling
  • Oozing of fluid or bleeding at the site
  • Tenderness on and around the area, which worsens when touched
  • Burning sensation
  • Redness where the skin has been scraped off
  • Mild to moderate fever
  • Itching in case the abrasion is a result of an insect bite or an allergic reaction
  • There are a few symptoms that could indicate that the abrasion you are suffering from is a lot more severe than the mild and common ones seen almost daily. Such abrasions should be checked by a doctor and their causes need to be identified without any delay. Given below are some of the symptoms of severe or worrisome abrasions:

  • Intense pain and swelling on the skin
  • Excess bleeding from the site of injury
  • Tenderness on and around the area, which worsens when touched
  • Weakness in the muscles surrounding the area
  • Numbness around the abrasion

As soon as any of these symptoms are seen, it is important to consult a doctor and undergo a proper evaluation for abrasions.

Causes of Abrasions

Almost all of us get abrasions at some point or the other. An abrasion usually occurs when your exposed skin comes into contact with a rough surface while moving. This contact could lead to grinding or rubbing away of the topmost layers of the epidermis, thereby resulting in a scrape, graze or other similar skin wound. This is one of the factors that differentiates an abrasion from a cut or laceration, where contact with a sharp object is usually involved.

In fact, abrasions are more common in children than in adults, as kids have more delicate skin and they usually engage in activities like running, jumping, playing sports, skating, and so on. It is very common for children or even adults to fall, slip or slide against a rough surface, after which an abrasion is formed on the skin. Some of the sports that are known to cause abrasions are baseball, soccer and American football. This is probably why abrasions are very common in athletes and sports personalities. >

At times, you could also get an abrasion because of an insect bite or due to an allergic reaction. Both lead to severe itchiness because of which, you may end up scratching the area continuously.

A huge number of people get skin abrasions after being in accidents, even minor ones. There are some women who may even suffer from abrasions after engaging in sexual intercourse.

Remedies for Abrasions

Fortunately, an abrasion is rarely a cause for concern and can be dealt with quite easily, using simple and natural home remedies. However, in order to avoid an infection, it is important to make sure that the wound has been cleaned properly. Therefore, the first step in the treatment for an abrasion is washing the affected area with some cool fresh water and an antibacterial soap. This may burn or sting a little, but it is an important step, which cannot be skipped. After the area has been cleaned, rubbing it dry will only aggravate the abrasion. Therefore, use a clean towel to pat the area gently, till it is dry. Once the abrasion has been cleaned and dried, it is best to apply a thick coat of petroleum jelly over the area. This not only soothes the skin, but also moisturizes it. Dry skin usually delays the healing process and therefore, it is better to keep the area moisturized as long as possible.

Lavender oil is also very effective in the treatment of abrasions, as it not only disinfects the wound, but also helps it heal faster. Prepare some thyme tea and add 3 to 5 drops of lavender essential oil to it. Apply this mixture on to the affected area once or twice a day. You could also make a salve at home, using some tea tree and comfrey, as these herbs are excellent for treating abrasions.

Aloe Vera is another natural remedy that is used for soothing many skin problems, including an abrasion, as it contains healing properties. Aloe Vera gel is easily available at most stores, but it is best to use a fresh Aloe Vera leaf for this purpose. Slit the leaf in such a way that the inner gel is exposed. Apply this gel directly on to the affected part of the skin.

Vinegar is regarded as a natural astringent, because it cleanses wounds and aids in the healing process. For best results, dilute one part of vinegar with 3 parts of water and using a piece of cotton, dab the solution over the open abrasion. Warm water yields better results as compared to cold water.

Many individuals choose to apply a dressing or bandages over abrasions to protect the damaged skin against further injury and to avoid the risk of infections. However, it is important to change the bandage often and at the same time, expose the skin to some amount of fresh air, so that a scab can be formed, as a part of the natural healing process.

Diet for Abrasions

While there is no specific diet that needs to be followed in the treatment of a skin abrasion, there are a few food items that may speed up the healing process. For example, consuming foods that are high in Vitamin E can improve the overall health of the skin and therefore, allow it to heal the abrasion at a faster rate. Taking Vitamin E supplements is also a great way to avoid scarring in case of the deeper abrasions.

When you are trying to heal abrasions at a faster pace, it may be a good idea for you to follow a balanced diet, which is rich in essential nutrients. Therefore, foods that are packed with vitamins and minerals should be consumed in higher quantities. Some of the most highly recommended foods for an abrasion diet include sunflower seeds, peanuts, lean beef and roasted pumpkin. Drinking a lot of water, - at least 8 glasses in a day will hydrate and moisturize your skin internally, which is excellent for abrasion treatment.

It is also important to eat meals at frequent intervals during the day, not just to promote healing of the abrasion, but also for your general health.

Suggestion for Abrasions

Although abrasions are exceedingly commonplace and may even seem like a trivial health concern to most of us, they shouldn’t be neglected. Although they may not warrant emergency treatment or first aid, abrasions should be treated appropriately, so as to prevent the onset of a secondary infection and to hasten healing. Adults who get abrasions should avoid smoking and consuming alcohol, as they delay the healing process. At times, the use of certain drugs too, could have a similar effect. If you are on any medications on a regular basis, it would therefore be best to have a word with your doctor about it.

In case an abrasion lasts for an unusually long period of time, such as for over a week or so, it would be best to seek medical attention. This is all the more important for anyone who is elderly or if you suffer from any preexisting condition.

Abrasions - Frequently asked questions
3 Abrasions remedies suggested by our users
suggested by Chandra on Monday, December 15, 2008

The juice of the marigold leaves is having both the anti inflammatory and antibiotic effect on the open wounds.

Iodized Salt
suggested by Richard on Saturday, December 23, 2006

I was taught this a long time ago in my youth, the clean salt with Iodine which everyone knows is a natural astringent. Salt is widely used to draw out infection in opened and closed wounds if you use Iodized salt it takes it a step further by adding the Iodine protection to the wound. Yes it will sting, but at the same time it will clean and start the curing process.

suggested by Richard on Saturday, December 23, 2006

Vinegar is a natural astringent it will cleanse any wound as well as help heal it. Just dilute 1 part vinegar with 3 parts water then pat it over the open abrasion. If you can warm the water this would be even better.