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Treating Skin Abrasions

Abrasions and road rash are very common sports injuries that are usually caused by a fall on a hard surface. As the athlete falls or slides on the ground, friction causes layers of skin to rub off.

The skin is composed of an outer layer (the epidermis) which provides protection, and a deep inner layer (the dermis), which provides the firmness and flexibility of the skin. Abrasions typically refer to an injury that removes these layers of skin.

Most abrasions are shallow scrapes that do not extend into the dermis and don't cause a great deal of bleeding. While there is often little or no blood loss from an abrasion, there can be a great deal of pain because of the many nerve endings that are exposed.

Treatment for Abrasion/Road Rash

Conventional treatment of abrasions/road rash included treating the area by cleaning the wound with mild soap and water or a mild antiseptic wash like hydrogen peroxide, and then covering the area with an antibiotic ointment and a dry dressing.

While a severe abrasion should be seen and cleaned by a physician, you can do some things to promote healing. First, because abrasions can easily become infected, you should clean the area thoroughly and remove any dirt and debris. The area must be completely clean. If necessary, use clean gauze to gently scrub the area. Do not scrub vigorously, as this can cause more tissue damage.

After the area is cleaned, use a semi-permeable dressing to cover the wound and attach the dressing to dry, healthy skin with adhesive tape. The dressing should be changed every few days. Keep the wound moist until it has healed. A moist environment promotes healing, improves tissue formation and protects the area from infection and scarring.

Deep Lacerations
While cleaning the skin abrasion, you should look for any deep cuts that may require stitches to heal properly. Cuts that continue to bleed after 15 minutes of direct pressure or a cut that extends deep into the skin and has edges that pull apart may require stitches. If you are unsure if you need stitches, you should see a physician immediately.

Healing
After an abrasion, the layers of damaged skin will heal from the deeper layers to the surface layers and from the outer edges to the center. As healing begins, the area of the abrasion may look pink and raw, but in time the wound will form new skin that is pink and smooth.

If the abrasion becomes red and starts to pus a yellowish-green substance, get into the doctor to receive a stronger antibacterial cream.