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Abrasion (Child)

The skin has several layers. When the top layer of the skin is rubbed or torn off, this causes a wound called a skin scrape (abrasion).

Abrasions can cause mild pain and bleeding. They are cleaned and treated to prevent skin breakdown and infection. In many cases, they are left open to air. But abrasions that occur near clothing may need to be protected by a bandage. Abrasions generally heal within a few days with very little scarring.

Home care

Your child’s healthcare provider may prescribe an antibiotic cream or ointment. This helps prevent infection. Follow instructions when giving this medicine to your child.

General care

  • If bleeding occurs, place a clean, soft cloth on the abrasion. Then firmly apply pressure until the bleeding stops. This can take up to 5 minutes. Don't release the pressure and look at the abrasion during this time.

  • Keep the abrasion clean. Wash it with clean, running water and a gentle soap twice a day. Also wash it if it gets dirty.

  • If a bandage is used, change it daily or as advised. If a bandage sticks to the skin, soak it in warm water to loosen it. Children have sensitive skin that can be irritated by adhesive. So, gently remove any adhesive by using mineral oil or petroleum jelly on a cotton ball.

  • Check the abrasion for signs of infection (see below).

Prevention

  • Do regular safety checks of your house, yard, and garage. Look for items that a child might trip over or run into.

  • Keep a well-stocked selection of bandages, sterile gauze, and antibiotic ointment on hand.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as advised.

Special note to parents

Abrasions, especially ones that bleed, tend to look more serious than they are. Try to stay calm when caring for your child.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child’s healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Your child has a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Signs of infection around the abrasion, such as redness, swelling, pain, or bad-smelling drainage

  • Bleeding from the abrasion that doesn’t stop after 5 minutes of pressure

  • Decreased ability to move any body part near the abrasion

Online Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Godsey
Online Medical Reviewer: Liora C Adler MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2019
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