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How a Scrape Heals

Topic Overview

Most scrapes heal well with home treatment and do not scar. Minor scrapes may be uncomfortable, but they usually heal within 3 to 7 days. The larger and deeper the scrape, the longer it will take to heal. A large, deep scrape may take up to 1 to 2 weeks or longer to heal.

It's common to have small amounts of fluid drain or ooze from a scrape. This oozing usually clears up gradually and stops within 4 days. Drainage is not a concern as long as there are no signs of infection.

Healing process

The way a scrape heals depends on the depth, size, and location of the scrape. Whether a scrape heals with or without a scab does not affect the healing time or the amount of scarring.

  • When a scrape removes the outer layers of skin, new skin will form in the bottom of the wound and the wound will heal from the bottom up. This type of scrape looks pink and raw at first. As it heals, the new skin sometimes appears yellowish and may be confused with pus.
  • When a scrape removes all of the layers of skin, new skin will form on the edges of the wound, and the wound will heal from the edges in to the middle. This type of scrape looks white at first, and fat cells may be visible. This type of scrape takes longer to heal.

Scab

Some scrapes form a scab during the healing process. A well-formed scab protects the scrape from more injury and infection. Once a scab is formed, the scraped area usually remains dry and does not ooze fluid.

  • A scab that forms over an area that moves, such as a joint, may crack and a few drops of clear yellowish to pinkish fluid may ooze from the wound. A cracked scab may be uncomfortable, and an infection can develop under the scab.
  • Scabs usually decrease in size and fall off as the new skin under the scab is formed.
  • During healing, a scab may accidentally get rubbed off, which causes the wound to start bleeding again. Treat the wound and protect the area so the healing process can begin again.

No scab

Some scrapes heal without a scab.

  • While it heals the scrape may stay moist and pink and ooze fluid or small amounts of blood. Over time, the area will turn pink and shiny as the new skin forms. This usually occurs when a scrape is kept covered with a bandage and is washed regularly with soap and water to remove the scab-forming tissue.
  • If a scrape is likely to get dirty or infected or if it is not forming a scab, it is better to bandage the scrape and allow it to heal without a scab. This healing process requires more treatment, such as washing off the scab-forming tissue and bandaging the scrape regularly.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Current as of June 4, 2014

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