How to Treat Scrapes

No one wants to have to treat scrapes, but if you learn how to care for them efficiently, you'll cut down on mess and pain.

Wash the Scrape Immediately
Scrapes can be tough to wash because they often cover large areas of the body. Immerse the scraped body part in warm, mildly soapy water. You can immerse an arm or elbow in a sink, but a leg may need to be immersed in a bathtub. Gently pat and float the wound clean, trying not to scrub the irritated skin.

Remove All Dirt and Gravel
Make sure you remove all embedded dirt and gravel in the scrape. This can be challenging to do without further irritating the scraped area. Use a sterilized pair of tweezers that has been dipped in rubbing alcohol and then rinsed to carefully pick out any stubborn grains of dirt or gravel. Do not rub or scrub the scrape as you may drive grains of sand or gravel deeper into the wound. If you cannot remove all the sand and dirt yourself, see a doctor.

Apply Antibiotic Ointment
After you've cleaned the scrape, pat it dry and apply a thin layer of Triple Antibiotic ointment, high-grade tea tree oil or a layer of Neosporin. This will promote healing and protect the scrape from infection.

Cover the Scrape
While many people think it's best to leave scrapes exposed to the open air, they will actually heal faster if you keep them covered with a bandage. Change the dressing and the ointment morning and night.

Make Sure You're Up to Date on Your Tetanus Shots
You'll need to consider the source of the scrape when evaluating your risk for developing tetanus. If you're not up on your shots, this would be a good time to get a booster shot.

Beware of Signs of Infection
Watch for red streaks coming from the scrape site, fever or unusual redness and tenderness.

Discourage Disturbance of the Scrape
Try not to scratch, pick at or otherwise disturb the scrape until it has fully healed. Reapply ointment and dressing until the scab falls off naturally.

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