Most superficial skin abrasions can be safely treated at home with regular wound cleansing and antibiotic ointment. A superficial abrasion usually heals within 7 to 10 days. Dirt and foreign material must be removed from abrasions, in order to reduce the chance for infection and scarring. When large areas of skin are lost, healing may require weeks. Large abrasions, where deep layers of skin are lost, require surgical repair and skin grafts, which may require months to heal.
Treatment for abrasions may include:
- Antibiotics for wounds
- Wound irrigation
- Rinsing the wound
- Wound cleansing
- Wound exploration
- Wound debridement:
- Removal of dead or dirty tissue
- Removal of foreign bodies in the wound
- Tetanus vaccination
Treatment for deep abrasions may include:
- Surgery to remove foreign bodies
- Surgery to repair damaged tissue
- Skin grafts
Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat abrasions:
Most children born in the US have received three tetanus shots (boosters) in the past, because these boosters are part of the usual vaccination schedule. Additional tetanus boosters are given every 10 years.
Those who require treatment to prevent tetanus include:
- Those who have not had 3 tetanus boosters in the past need a tetanus booster after a skin wound.
- Those who have not received a tetanus booster in the past 10 years need a tetanus booster after a skin wound.
- Those who have dirty wounds need a tetanus booster if they have not received a booster in the past 5 years.
Dirty wounds include:
- Wounds that occur outdoors
- Wounds that contain dirt or foreign material
- Tetanus booster:
- A tetanus booster stimulates the immune system to make antibodies against the tetanus toxin.
- A tetanus booster may be given to those who have received 3 tetanus boosters in the past.
- The tetanus booster may be given within 72 hours after the wound occurs.
- Tetanus Immune Globulin (TIG):
Tetanus Vaccine and TIG Recommendations
|History||Clean, Minor Wound||Other Wounds|
|< 3 boosters||give Td||give Td + TIG|
|3 boosters||possible Td||possible Td|
Clean and minor wounds may need a booster if it has been more than 10 years since the last tetanus vaccine. Other wounds may need a booster if it has been more than 5 years since last tetanus vaccine.
Continue to Abrasions Home Care
- Hess CT. The art of skin and wound care documentation. Adv Skin Wound Care. 2005 Jan-Feb;18(1):43-53. 
- Moulin V, Auger FA, Garrel D, Germain L. Role of wound healing myofibroblasts on re-epithelialization of human skin.Burns. 2000 Feb;26(1):3-12. 
- Norman D. The effects of age-related skin changes on wound healing rates. J Wound Care. 2004 May;13(5):199-201. 
- O'Dell ML. Skin and wound infections: an overview. Am Fam Physician. 1998 May 15;57(10):2424-32.