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Health Questions

Scrape

Definition

A scrape is an area where the skin is rubbed off. It usually occurs after you fall down or hit something. A scrape is usually not serious, but it can be painful and may bleed slightly.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your doctor if:

  • The scrape contains dirt and other debris deep inside.
  • The scrape is very large.
  • The scrape looks like it may be infected. Signs of infection include warmth or red streaks at the injured site, pus, or a fever.
  • You have not had a tetanus shot within 10 years.

First Aid

A scrape is often dirty. Even if you don't see dirt, the scrape can get infected. Make sure to clean the area thoroughly.

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Wash the cut thoroughly with mild soap and water. (This is important, even when children cry and protest.)
  3. Large pieces of dirt or debris should be removed with tweezers.
  4. If available, apply antibiotic ointment.
  5. If a small scrape is likely to get rubbed or dirty, apply a non-adhesive bandage. Otherwise let it air dry.
  6. Larger scrapes, or scrapes that bleed more, should be covered with a gauze bandage. Ice can help reduce swelling. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.

References

Lammers RL. Principles of wound management. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 34.


Review Date: 5/1/2011
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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