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Superficial wounds also known as abrasion or graze mostly involve the epidermis layer of your skin. There are many causes of superficial wounds and the majority are caused after a fall (during sports) on the knees, elbows and hands. Children under the age of 15 years and adults above 75 years of age are those who are frequently affected by this condition.

Abrasions typically heal quickly without any complications or scars. However co-morbidities such as diabetes mellitus, obesity, or use of medication like steroids can delay wound healing. In many cases, you will not visit your GP for an abrasion wound as it heals quickly. However, most people seek advice from a GP regarding wound management.

Your GP will ask you 4 important questions

  1. How the wound occurred: this helps to provide information on factors such as contamination of the wound
  2. When the wound occurred; wounds that are older than 6 to 8 hours need to be considered as infected wounds
  3. If you have any co-morbidities or pre-existent conditions like immune deficiency
  4. Whether you have a current vaccination status for tetanus

An abrasion is recognised by your GP as small round point bleed from the dermis. Some abrasions can bleed more profusely than others depending on the location and presence of co-morbidities. Before you get to your GP for assessment you can do the following

  • Clean the abrasion with running tap water, there is no need to add soap at this stage.

Once at your GP the following procedures will be done

  • Clean some more; if your abrasion wound is large or contaminated the GP may give you a local anaesthetic to clean the wound as this can be painful
  • Disinfect the wound with iodine which acts as an antiseptic for bacteria and fungal infection.
    • Chlorhexidine can also be used and is highly effective against bacteria (gram negative and gram positive).
  • Let the wound dry naturally without placing a bandage; one of the advantages of this method is that in time, the skin will produce a protective scab layer. This is a natural healing process and the scab will fall off by itself.
  • Bandage abrasions that are not exposed to air and that will not be able to dry naturally as explained above.
  • Occlusive bandage with an occlusive foam that protects the abrasion wound from contact with air. This provides faster healing and there is little pain or discomfort when changing the dressings
  • Local antibiotics; If the wound looks infected the GP can opt to apply an antibiotic cream
    • Fusidic acid (3 times a day for a week). The cream works better against staphylococcus aureus bacterial and is less effective for streptococcus bacteria.
  • Systemic antibiotic; in the event of general unwell, fever, regionally enlarged lymph nodes, the GP should prescribe oral antibiotics in the form of
    • flucloxacillin (500 mg 4 times daily for 10 to 14 days) or
    • clarithromycin in case of penicillin allergy (500mg 2 times a day for 10 to 14 days) or
    • clindamycine in case of penicillin allergy (600 mg 3 times a day for 10 to 14 days)

A referral to specialist care is very unlikely and depends on healing, scarring and general physical health