How to Heal a Skinned Knee

Three Parts:Assessing the SituationCleaning and Dressing the WoundCaring for the Wound as it Heals

Although a skinned knee is a relatively minor abrasion, you still want to take steps so that it heals as quickly and safely as possible.[1] With a few easily-available supplies, you can clean and care for the wound. Take the right steps, and you'll be back to normal as soon as possible.

Part 1
Assessing the Situation

  1. Image titled Heal a Skinned Knee Step 1
    Check the wound. Most of the time, a skinned knee is a relatively minor problem, treatable at home—but inspect your wound just to be sure. A wound is considered minor and treatable without medical attention if:[2]
    • It is not deep enough to see fat, muscle, or bone.
    • It is not spurting blood.
    • Its edges are not jagged and far apart.
    • If you do notice any of these conditions, contact a doctor.
    • If the scrape was caused by rusty metal and you have not had a tetanus shot in several years, you should contact a doctor.
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    Wash your hands before treating the wound.[3] You do not want to cause an infection when treating your skinned knee, so wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before starting to take care of it. If you want extra protection, you can also put on disposable gloves before starting to clean the skinned knee.
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    Stop any bleeding. If there is any bleeding on your skinned knee, stop it by applying pressure on the site.
    • If dirt or debris is blocking the spot where the knee is bleeding, rinse it off before trying to stop the bleeding. Otherwise, rinse and wash the wound area after stopping the bleeding.
    • To stop the bleeding, hold a clean cloth or gauze over the bleeding portion of the wound, and apply pressure for a few minutes.
    • Change the cloth or gauze if it becomes soaked with blood.
    • If the bleeding does not stop after 10 minutes, contact a doctor, as stitches may be required.[4][5][6]

Part 2
Cleaning and Dressing the Wound

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    Rinse the wound. Let cool water run over your skinned knee, or pour it over it. Do this long enough to make sure that the water has flowed over the entire area, and washed away any loose dirt and/or debris.[7][8]
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    Wash the wound. Use antibacterial soap and water to clean around the wound, but try not to get soap in the wound itself, as this can cause irritation.[9][10] This will help to wash away bacteria and keep away infection.
    • Hydrogen peroxide and iodine were traditionally used to disinfect skin wounds, such as a skinned knee.[11] However, hydrogen peroxide and iodine can actually damage living cells, so medical professionals now advise that you should not apply them to a wound.[12][13][14]
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    Remove any debris. If anything is stuck in the wound, like dirt, sand, splinters, etc., use tweezers to carefully remove this material. First clean and sterilize the tweezers by rubbing them with a cotton ball or gauze soaked in isopropyl alcohol.[15][16] Rinse with cool water once the debris is removed.
    • If dirt or other material is lodged so deep in the wound that you cannot get it out, contact a doctor.[17]
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    Gently pat dry. Once you have rinsed and washed the skinned knee, gently use a clean cloth or towel to dry the area. Patting rather than rubbing it dry will help you avoid unnecessary pain.
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    Apply an antibiotic cream, especially if the wound was dirty. This can deter infection and help the wound as it heals.[18][19]
    • There are numerous types of antibiotic creams and ointments, containing different active ingredients or combinations (bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin, for example).[20] Always carefully follow the directions provided with your cream regarding the amount to use and method of application.
    • Some creams have mild analgesics incorporated as pain relief.
    • Some ointments and creams may cause an allergic reaction in some people. If you notice redness, itching, swelling, etc. after using one of these products, stop using it and try another one with a different active ingredient.
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    Cover the wound. Make sure to cover your skinned knee with a bandage, to protect it from dirt, infection, and irritation from clothing during the time it needs to heal. You can use an adhesive bandage, or sterile gauze held in place with tape or an elastic band.[21][22]

Part 3
Caring for the Wound as it Heals

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    Apply fresh bandages as needed. Change the bandage covering your skinned knee daily, or more frequently if it becomes wet or dirty.[23][24] Wash any dirt away from the area, as before.
    • Research demonstrates that removing an adhesive bandage quickly rather than slowly will probably cause less pain, although it depends somewhat on the nature of the wound.[25][26]
    • Rubbing the ends of an adhesive bandage with oil, and letting it sit for a few moments, might help remove the bandage with less pain.
  2. Image titled Heal a Skinned Knee Step 11
    Reapply antibiotic cream daily.[27] While this alone doesn’t make the wound heal faster, it will stave off infection. An antibiotic cream will also keep a wound moist as it heals, which will prevent the scabbing and scarring that may result if a wound dries out. Generally, creams can be applied once or twice a day. check with product directions for frequency.[28]
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    Pay attention to how the healing is progressing. Exactly how fast your skinned knee will heal depends on a number of factors like your age, nutrition, whether or not you smoke, your stress level, if you have an illness, etc. Moreover, antibiotic creams will only stave off infections, not actually heal the wound faster. If you wound seems to be healing abnormally slowly, check with a medical professional, as it could be a sign of something more serious, like an illness.[29]
  4. Image titled Heal a Skinned Knee Step 13
    Contact a doctor if things seem to get worse. You will need expert attention: [30][31][32]
    • If the knee joint stops working.
    • If your knee feels numb.
    • If the wound bleeds and won’t stop.
    • If there is dirt or other foreign material in the wound that you can’t get out of it.
    • If the wound site becomes inflamed or swollen.
    • If red streaks radiate from the wound.
    • If the wound site drains pus.
    • If you run a fever of over 100.4° F (38° C)

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Antiseptic Soap
  • Tweezers
  • Clean Towel or Cloth
  • Antibiotic Cream
  • Bandages

Sources and Citations


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