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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.
A scrape is often dirty. Even if you don't see dirt, the scrape can get infected. Make sure to clean the area thoroughly.
- Wash your hands.
- Wash the cut thoroughly with mild soap and water. (This is important, even when children cry and protest.)
- Large pieces of dirt or debris should be removed with tweezers.
- If available, apply antibiotic ointment.
- If a small scrape is likely to get rubbed or dirty, apply a non-adhesive bandage. Otherwise let it air dry.
- 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.
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.
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.