Last updated on November 24th, 2017
An abrasion is a common type of injury that occurs when the skin gets grazed or torn off. This can happen when you fall, skid or brush forcefully against a rough, hard surface.
Unprotected, bare knees, shins, hands, elbows and ankles are most susceptible to abrasions because they are covered with a thin layer of skin and are bonier, with less padding than some other body parts. The abdomen, buttocks and thighs have more padding and thicker skin and are less susceptible to abrasions injuries.
Difference Between Abrasions And Cuts
Cuts and abrasions are both types of skin injuries. They differ mainly in the way they are caused. Cuts are typically caused when a sharp-edged object such as a blade or knife cuts or slices across the surface of the skin causing it to split open and bleed. Cuts can also be caused by accidents and sports injuries.
Abrasions on the other hand are caused by friction of the skin against a rough or scratchy surface and they do not necessarily bleed.
Different Types Of Abrasion Injuries
Abrasions can vary in size and severity, depending on the abrading force and the extent of the body surface exposed to this force. The rougher the surface and the more force with which the skin comes in contact with it, the deeper and more severe the injury is likely to be. The smoother the surface and the lesser the force of impact, the milder the abrasion injury will be.
First Degree Abrasions
A first degree abrasion is a mild injury in which only the epidermis gets damaged. Absence of bleeding is another characteristic of first degree abrasions. There is no specific treatment required for these injuries other than the initial cleaning to remove any embedded dirt.
Grazing your arm against a rough wall or falling off a bicycle on a tarred surface will most likely result in a first degree abrasion.
Second Degree Abrasions
A second degree abrasion is a little more severe. In this type of injury both the outer layer and the second layer of skin are damaged and there is a little bleeding. Medical treatment usually involves cleaning and application of medicated ointment to prevent infection.
Second degree abrasions may result from being ejected out of a vehicle in an accident or getting bumped by a vehicle and falling off your bicycle. Sports injuries are another common cause of second degree abrasions.
Third Degree Abrasions
Third degree abrasions are the most severe type of abrasion injury. In this type of injury, the deeper subcutaneous layer of skin gets damaged along with the outer two layers – the epidermis and dermis.
Third degree abrasions can be extremely painful. This is because the subcutaneous layer houses the highly sensitive nerve endings and damage to this layer leaves the nerve endings exposed and vulnerable. They are also more likely to get infected if not cleaned and treated properly and to leave scars even after the wound has healed.
You could suffer a third degree abrasion from being ejected out of a vehicle in a high-speed accident or from getting bumped by a vehicle and falling off your bicycle when cycling at high speed. You could also suffer second degree abrasions as a pedestrian if you get knocked to the road by a speeding vehicle.
Do All Abrasions Heal Naturally?
Most abrasions, especially first and second degree abrasions, heal fully within about 7 to 10 days. If the injured area or the area surrounding it continues to remain swollen, red and warm to the touch or if there is some type of discharge, it may indicate that an infection has set in. If there is an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection and heal the injury.
In addition to the severity of your injury, your age, diet and overall health also play key roles in determining the rate at which your abrasion injury heals. The immune system and skin need proper nutrition to stay healthy.
When To Seek Medical Attention For Abrasion Injuries
In most cases, abrasion injuries do not require emergency medical attention unless the injury is very deep and accompanied by severe bleeding.
However, irrespective of how severe the injury looks, you should seek immediate medical attention if:
- The abrasion injury is located near your eye.
- You have a large abrasion injury on your face.
- The cut is deeper than ¼ inch.
- The wound looks wide, gaping and jagged.
- You feel numb or dizzy after the accident.
- You have no sensation in the area of the abrasion.
- The abrasion injury covers a large area anywhere on your body.
- The injury was caused by a rusty or very dirty objected.
- The underlying fat or muscle can be seen through the cut.
- You cannot clean the wound properly and can see dirt or foreign objects lodged in the wound.
- You are overdue on your tetanus shot.
Can You File A Compensation Claim For Abrasion Injuries?
If you have sustained severe abrasion injuries because of somebody else’s mistake or negligence – due to rash driving, poor maintenance of roads or lack of training in the workplace – you should consider hiring a personal injury solicitor and filing a claim for compensation for your injuries.
For your abrasion injury claim to be successful, you will need to provide solid proof that the injuries were caused due to no fault of yours and that they were the result of another person’s mistake or negligence. Getting photographs of your injuries and of the accident site and collecting witness statements are key requirements to help support your claim. More information on making an abrasion injury claim can be found here.
Abrasion injuries often look minor immediately after an accident but neglecting to get the injury treated could result in infection setting in, leading to further complications and longer healing time. Regardless of how minor your injury looks, it is always advisable to seek medical attention as early as possible. Not only will you get the treatment you need so that the wounds can heal faster but the doctor’s statement and prescription will also act as supporting evidence should you decide to pursue a compensation claim.