When your skin rubs against a hard surface, the friction scrapes out the top layer of the skin, causing an abrasion. These are simply flesh wounds, with varying levels of severity. It’s fairly common, especially in impact sport circles, and is often equated as a synonym to ‘road rash’. Abrasions are hardly life threatening, and in most cases do not go past the dermis. This inner, second layer, is responsible for the firm and flexibility components of the skin. There may be slight bleeding, in rare cases, but the pain factor is a bit more elevated, based on the many nerve endings within both the outer layer (epidermis) and the inner layer (dermis).
The damage is usually superficial, but it does leave a scar, which fades out over time-so cosmetic surgery will not be necessary. Abrasions can be anything from a slight bruise to a nasty graze. Mild abrasions are the most common and tend to self-heal after a few days, but as the severity increases, so does the necessity for treatment. The usual classification is first, second, and third degree. The first is the more obvious, more common type, prevalent with kids and some adults. This injury does not go past the epidermis, and on many occasions, it wears itself out. Second-degree abrasions may result in slight bleeding. This is mainly because they go deeper into the skin. Third degree is an abrasion at its most severe. It bruises past all three-skin layers, bleeds more, and is significantly more painful.
Causes of Abrasions
Abrasions are fairy commonplace, and may be caused by anything from a fall to rubbing your skin against a wall. Kids are more susceptible, based on heightened physical activity, and the fact that they have skin that is more sensitive. In adults, abrasions are linked to active sports; baseball, rugby, soccer; giving testament to its prevalence in sports personalities. The key word here is friction. Any activity that involves potential for friction to exposed skin can cause an abrasion. When the skin gets rubbed against a surface, it discolors, bruises, and, occasionally bleeds.
The causes are a bit too many to exhaust, so perhaps the more obvious ones will suffice. Many people still have no idea how to differentiate between a simple abrasion, an avulsion, and a laceration. You may have slipped, had an awkward fall, and scraped your hands on the ground while trying to break the fall-which is perhaps the most simplistic definition of an abrasion. This may be applicable in an accident setting, in sports, and overall play. It is important to note that everyone has, at some point, been victim of an abrasion, by any of the following causes
- Running, jumping, and overall kid’s play.
- Professional sports; soccer, basketball, rugby, etc
- Accidents in their entirety
- Construction work
- Impact sports like boxing, wrestling.
Soft, sensitive skin is especially susceptible to abrasions, and can be affected by even the slightest physical contact. The more severe the abrasion, the more painful it is. Such is also the case when it comes to scarring. Second and third degree abrasions are more likely to leave a long-term scar, while those of a milder variety tend not to leave a mark.
Symptoms of Abrasions
There are cuts, and there are bruises. It is important to know the difference. Abrasions incline more towards bruises, while cuts and lacerations tend to go much deeper into the skin. An abrasion is the resultant feature of skin friction against a rough surface, while a cut results from the impact of a sharp object. Knowing the difference helps, you have a clear picture in terms of care and treatment procedure. There is no specific list of criteria for diagnosing an abrasion, for the main reason that it is not considered a clinical diagnosis. Some obvious symptoms are actually standard for many skin related injuries. It is especially difficult for mild abrasions, as they usually do not require any actual treatment. Nevertheless, the symptoms are still worth mentioning.
- Numbness around the abraded area is usually the first cue. If the skin peels off, and the area around the wound has an equal blend of pain and numbness-it is a symptom.
- In certain cases, the skin is usually white, right before the blood starts seeping out. White is the color of part of the inner skin surface, and when you scrape past the top layer, that is precisely what you will see.
- The most obvious symptom would be pain and swelling. The swelling here depends on the degree. The deeper the abrasion the larger the swelling. There may as well be some discoloration on the wound, as an indication of rubbed out skin.
- Mild cases have partial loss of upper layer skin. Fortunately, this skin grows back after a while. Severe cases on the other hand, have total loss of skin. The skin does not grow back; mainly because the abrasion goes much further than the dermis (second layer). This completely severs the nerve endings, and with it, your skin’s ability to grow back, resulting in a permanent scar.
- The pain around the wound is usually more of a burning sensation, and it is often sensitive to the touch.
It is important to know that these are not exclusive symptoms, and may point to an entirely different injury; luckily, there is no prescription medication for abrasion treatment that cannot be used on similar types of conditions. Some symptoms however, may be an indication of a more severe brand of abrasions, and may require that one see a physician. It is always a red flag;
- If the wound looks shallow, but it bleeds profusely, then it could indicate an underlying, weakened clot factor.
- If the wound causes inexplicable weakness, or loss of muscle tone
- If the numbness factor extends way beyond the injured area
- If the swelling gets out of hand, and the pain becomes sharp and excruciating.
At this point, what seems like a harmless bruise may be catalyzed by a blend of underlying conditions that may make it worse than it ought to be. It is advisable to consult a doctor before things get out of hand.
Abrasion Home Remedies
An abrasion is, by definition, an open wound, and as such is prone to infection. The wound itself may not be cause for concern, but if infected, it may end up becoming more severe. There are dozens of approaches when it comes to treating an abrasion, some of which come ill advised. Dressing the wound, for example, tends to make the abrasion take a lot longer to heal. This is because; the lack of air causes the wound to remain moist, and unable to form a scab. If you maintain one set of dressing for long periods, it will significantly slow down the healing process. If the abrasion is severe, and a dressing becomes necessary, then it is advisable to change it regularly, and ensure that the wound gets occasional exposure to the sun, and fresh air.
The first step is to clean the wound with clean water and a disinfectant. Then pat the wound dry with a clean cloth, DO NOT rub it-you will only make it worse. If the wound is not dressed, it is important to ensure it does not dry out. Dry skin will not do you any favors. It is advisable to use some petroleum jelly to keep it moist. So what remedies are there? Here are a number of home remedies that you can try. Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies yourself!
- Lavender Oil– put lavender oil on the affected are. It is one of the most effective home remedy for abrasions. Oil soothes the injured area and prevents bleeding which is common when injured part dries up.
- Thyme Tea– disinfect the affected area with thyme tea. It treats abrasions within a short span of time. You can use thyme tea with a cup of water that contains a few drops of essential oil to enhance treatment.
- Powdered Turmeric and powdered henna– mix the ingredients and sprinkle the powder to the affected area.
- Herbal Calendula– this is an effective and anti inflammatory, antiseptic and astringent home remedy for abrasions. It treats the affected area and helps to promote growth of new skin. It also stops bleeding.
- Aloe– aloe has the best anti inflammatory and antibacterial properties. These properties help to heal all types of abrasions. However, it is vital to use pure gel for topical application to enhance quick and effective treatment of abrasions.
- Proper diet– a well balanced diet is crucial in treatment of abrasions. Ensure to eat a diet that is rich in all essential nutrients and stay off drugs, smoking and alcohol to treat abrasions. More importantly, include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.
- Marigold flowers– they are quite effective in treatment of abrasions. Crush the flowers and apply them externally to the affected area. It helps to treat and prevent infection of the affected area.
- Palsey leaves– crush palsey leaves and apply on the affected area. The treatment can be combined with onion juice for more effectiveness. Use it two times a day to enhance your treatment.
- Dock leaves– apply fresh and clean dock leaves directly on abrasion injuries or as a lotion.
- Bandages– Although they do not come highly recommended, bandages and dressings prevent further damage to the abrasion, and keep the wound clean.
- Vinegar– Vinegar has been known to be a particularly potent remedy. Diluted in warm water on a 3:1 ratio, vinegar disinfects and hastens the healing process.
- Salt– You can also disinfect the wound with sodium chloride, which serves the purpose of cleansing the wound.
Diet for Abrasions
There is no prescriptive diet for treating abrasions, aside from the obvious Vitamin E supplements, the only advise would be to keep a balanced diet to promote overall good health. The focus here should be on what not to consume. Alcohol and drug abuse tends to delay the healing process, so it is probably a good idea to tone it down. It is also advisable to keep your body hydrated; drink lots of water.
Prevention of Abrasions
Accidents are inevitable; the best line of defense is always prevention. Wearing protective gear when playing contact sports; anything from shoulder pads, to kneepads, and ensuring there is no exposed skin-except your face, of course. You can get headgear to protect your head, and gloves for your palms-where applicable. Having a first aid kit at hand, just incase, is always a good idea. Certain habits tend to weaken your immune system, and make a simple abrasion into an E.R case; alcohol and drug abuse just spring to mind here.