Key Points about Cuts and Scrapes

  • Skin injuries such as punctures, scratches and scrapes can occur during almost any everyday activity.
  • Most cuts and scrapes can be treated at home and do not require medical treatment unless they require stitches or become infected.

Overview

Cuts and scrapes are common skin injuries that can occur during a variety of everyday activities or accidents. Most cuts and scrapes are not harmful and can be treated at home.

Call your doctor if your cuts and scrapes continue bleeding, were caused by an animal, become infected, or are deep enough to require stitches.

Cuts and scrapes causes

Skin injuries can occur through almost any everyday activity. Common causes of cuts and scrapes include:

  • Tripping and falling
  • Kitchen injuries
  • Contact sports
  • Fighting

Cuts and scrapes risk factors

You may be more likely to experience cuts and scrapes if you:

  • Are a child
  • Participate in contact sports
  • Have a physically demanding profession
  • Are elderly

Cuts and scrapes symptoms

Cuts and scrapes may take the form of:

  • Punctures from a sharp object
  • Thin scratches that may be shallow or deep
  • Removal of a patch of the top layer of skin

Cuts and scrapes complications

Any break in the skin poses a risk for an infection to develop.

Cuts and scrapes diagnosis

Most cuts and scrapes do not require medical attention. You may need to consult a doctor, however, if your cuts or scrapes:

  • Were caused by an animal or human bite
  • Contain dirt or other fragments that are not easily removed
  • Continue bleeding for a long period of time

Cuts and scrapes treatment

Skin injuries that are particularly deep and may not heal quickly on their own may require stitches. If your cuts and scrapes become infected, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics.

To treat cuts and scrapes at home:

  • Wash your hands before treating the wound
  • Wash the area with water
  • Apply petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment to the wound
  • Cover the wound with a sterile bandage to prevent infection, and change the bandage daily

Next Steps

Ask your doctor about your most recent tetanus shot, to make sure you are up to date.