Treating Abrasions and Contusions

Abrasions and contusions are common injuries. Immediate and correct care will minimize or avoid disability and allow prompt return to action.


Abrasions are conditions in which the skin is worn away by scraping against a hard, rough surface. Abrasions can be very painful and may be complicated by infection.

Treatment of Abrasions

  1. Cleanse the abraded area with soap and water. Make sure to remove any dirt and foreign materials that are imbedded in the wound. Hydrogen peroxide may also be used. Apply it freely to the affected area until the foaming has subsided.
  2. Cover the area with a sterile, non-stick dressing. Sterile, antibiotic ointments may be used but should not be substituted for thorough and proper cleansing of the wound.
  3. Cyclists occasionally suffer extreme abrasions as a result of high-speed accidents and should seek appropriate medical care. “Road rash” may produce severe pain.


A direct blow is the most common cause of contusions (bruises). Bleeding and swelling of underlying tissue produces a black-and-blue mark.

Treatment of Contusions

Control bleeding and swelling by using R.I.C.E. (Rest, ice, compression, elevation)

  • Rest.
  • Ice. Apply cold to decrease the amount of bleeding and swelling and to attempt to control pain and muscle spasm. Application should be for 20 to 30 minutes, waiting 1 to 2 hours before reapplication.
  • Compression. Apply an elastic bandage to the affected area to reduce the amount of bleeding and swelling.
  • Elevation. Place the affected body part at or above the level of the heart to use gravity to minimize the amount of swelling that may occur.

Contusions usually pose no real medical emergency yet should receive immediate care. Severe injury can generate extreme bleeding and swelling. Injury to the head or abdominal region may require prompt medical care. Additionally, medical care may need to be pursued to rule out possible injury to underlying tissue (i.e. fracture).

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