Skin Abrasions : How to manage this common wound


January 03, 2021

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How long does it takes to heal a skin abrasion?


The length of time it takes to heal is generally dictated by 3 factors:

  • Depth of the abrasion
  • Size (width) of the abrasion
  • Location of the abrasion

Wounds generally heal in like a purse string - from the outside in and from the bottom up. The deeper and the wider the abrasion, there will be more healing time required to have the area ‘fill in’.  


Abrasions located on the legs and particularly below the knee will take much longer to heal as the circulation is generally not as great as elsewhere.  Most shallow and superficial abrasions located above the knee and managed appropriately can potentially heal within a week to 10 days. 


The wound below is an abrasion I saw last year after sliding on turf.  It took 3 weeks to proceed from the first photo to the second given the size of the area involved.  Overall it had healed without needing dressings after about 2 weeks.  The pigment started to recur by about week 3.  Today there is no evidence of the wound left.

What is the best home remedy for skin abrasions?

The biggest mistake people make that adds to the healing time is letting wounds dry out or expose them to air. Our skin cells heal by migrating across a wound to heal it in like a purse string.  If the area dries out, the skin cells will not be able to migrate and wound healing will be delayed.  If you allow a scab to form, then this will serve as a roadblock to prevent or delay healing as well as have a higher risk of scar formation.  

The best steps to take in managing a wound:
  1. Cleanse the wound gently. If saline or sterile water is not available, running water is best.  Allowing soapy water to run over the wound may sting less than applying soap directly to the wound.  
  2. If there is just slight oozing or seepage in the wound, this is to be expected if the wound was deep enough to reach the dermis.  If there is active bleeding, apply vaseline to a piece of gauze then use the gauze to apply direct pressure to the wound for 10 minutes- without peaking.  The purpose of the ointment is to allow the gauze to lift without pulling the scab and triggering more bleeding.  10 minutes ought to provide adequate time for clotting.  If active bleeding does not stop, please contact your doctor, consider an urgent care or ER visit or call 911 for help.
  3. Apply petroleum jelly or an antibiotic ointment and a nonstick dressing. From a healing perspective, in the absence of an infection, petroleum jelly is sufficient to promote wound healing. Using petroleum jelly or white petrolatum also reduces the risk of a contact dermatitis.  If there is significant pain, discomfort or discharge from the wound, seek the advice of a medical professional and consider the use of antibiotic dressings or oral antibiotics if needed.
  4. If the wound is on an extremity, consider the use of coflex or coban to hold the dressing in place. Use of this type of wrap can reduce the irritation from adhesive in bandages.  Change it daily until the area heals. 

Are there some good items to keep on hand for a first aid kit?

Consider keeping a bag with some basics in your car or home.

Product Image

Petroleum Jelly




Sterile Water

Alcohol Prep Pads

Gauze Pads


(Non Stick Dressing)

Paper Tape



Bandage Scissors





Antibiotic Ointment

Tags abrasion

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