What is an abrasion?

An abrasion is a lesion caused by superficial damage to the skin that does not extend beyond the epidermis.  These most commonly occur when skin comes into contact with a rough surface causing the skin to be rubbed away. Bleeding, if present is minimal.  Mild abrasions do not scar but deep abrasions may lead to scar formation. Avulsions are traumatic abrasions that remove all layers of skin.   Common types of abrasions include rug burns, road rashes from motor vehicle accidents and friction burns from rope.  Note that while abrasions may be referenced as burns they are not as serious as burns.  

How are abrasions treated?

Cleaning the wound and removing debris is the most important aspect of healing.  A topical lubricant such as Vaseline can be applied to the wound to keep it moist and help prevent scarring.  A dressing may be applied to help keep the wound moist but it is optional. If the abrasion is painful a topical anesthetic may be applied such as lidocaine or benzocaine.


Kidd, P.S., Sturt, P.A., and Fultz, J. Mosby’s emergency nursing reference (2nd ed.) St.Louis: Mosby, Inc. 2000.