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The Dos And Don'ts Of Caring For An Abrasion

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An abrasion is a type of wound that results from the skin being rubbed or scraped. If you fall off a bike and skin your knee, that wound is an abrasion. If you grab onto a rope and someone pulls it through your hand, the resulting rope burn is a type of abrasion. Most mild to moderate abrasions can be tended to at home. However, you will want to follow these wound care dos and don'ts as you go about this process.

Do: Wash the wound gently.

Because they are caused by friction, it is not uncommon for abrasions to have little bits of the abrading material within them. For example, there may be little chunks of gravel stuck on a skinned knee. It is therefore vital to wash the wound with clean water. You may need to use your fingers, if needed, to gently coax any small debris out of the wound. Once you're confident there is no more debris in the wound, follow up with a rinse with some iodine, which will sanitize the wound. 

Don't: Get too worried about bleeding.

Abrasions tend to bleed a lot even though they are not deep. This is because the wound covers such a large surface area and breaks a lot of small vessels. Don't get too worried if the wound seems to be bleeding for quite a while. It will slow down and start scabbing once you are done rinsing and treating it. Remember that some bleeding can be good; it's your body's way of naturally rinsing out the wound.

Do: Cover the wound at first.

After you clean the wound, cover it with some antibiotic ointment and put a bandage on it. You will want to remove the bandage after a few days so the area can dry up and scab over more durably. But in these initial stages, covering it will help keep it clean and ease discomfort.

Don't: Ignore signs of infection.

Many abrasions can be managed at home, but do not hesitate to seek a doctor's care if you suspect, at any time, that the wound has become infected. Signs of infection include yellow pus, redness around the wound, swelling, and heat. Your doctor can prescribe topical or oral antibiotics to clear up the infection.

Adhere to these dos and don'ts, and you'll do a better job of caring for an abrasion at home. Talk to your doctor to learn more about wound care.