Abrasion (medical)

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For other uses, see Abrasion (disambiguation).
Abrasion (medical)
Classification and external resources
Specialty emergency medicine
ICD-10 T14.0
ICD-9-CM 919.0
Abrasion on the palm of a right hand, shortly after falling
Abrasions on elbow and lower arm. The elbow wound will produce a permanent scar.

In dermatology, an abrasion is a wound caused by superficial damage to the skin, no deeper than the epidermis. It is less severe than a laceration, and bleeding, if present, is minimal. Mild abrasions, also known as grazes or scrapes, do not scar or bleed, but deep abrasions may lead to the formation of scar tissue. A more traumatic abrasion that removes all layers of skin is called an avulsion.

Abrasion injuries most commonly occur when exposed skin comes into moving contact with a rough surface, causing a grinding or rubbing away of the upper layers of the epidermis.

By degree[edit]

  • A first-degree abrasion involves only epidermal injury.
  • A second-degree abrasion involves the epidermis as well as the dermis and may bleed slightly.
  • A third-degree abrasion involves damage to the subcutaneous layer and the skin and is often called an avulsion.


The abrasion should be cleaned and any debris removed. A topical antibiotic (such as Neosporin or bacitracin) should be applied to prevent infection and to keep the wound moist.[1] Dressing the wound is optional[1] but helps to keep the wound from drying out which interferes with healing.[2] If the abrasion is painful, a topical analgesic (such as lidocaine or benzocaine) can be applied, but for large abrasions. a systemic analgesic may be necessary.[1] Avoid exposing abraded skin to the sun as permanent hyperpigmentation can develop.


The gallery below shows the healing process for an abrasion on the palm caused by sliding on concrete.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kidd, P. S., Sturt, P. A., & Fultz, J. (2000). Mosby's emergency nursing reference (2nd ed.). St. Louis: Mosby, Inc.
  2. ^ Abrasions: Merck Manual Online