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Skin Avulsion

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

Skin avulsion is a wound that happens when skin is torn from your body during an accident or other injury. The torn skin may be lost or too damaged to be repaired, and it must be removed. A wound of this type cannot be stitched closed because there is tissue missing. Avulsion wounds are usually bigger and have more scars because of the missing tissue.



  • Antibiotic ointment: Your healthcare provider may tell you to gently rub a topical antibiotic ointment on your wound. This will help prevent an infection and help your wound heal faster.
  • Pain medicine may be needed. Do not wait until your pain is severe before you take this medicine. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it. Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by asking for help when you want to get out of bed.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children younger than 6 months without direction from a healthcare provider.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Care for your wound:

Avulsion wounds may take longer to heal because they cannot be closed with tape or stitches. Keep your wound clean and protected to prevent infection and speed healing.

  • Clean your wound: Wash your hands with soap and water before and after you care for your wound. You may be able to use a soft cloth to gently clean the wound after the first 24 to 48 hours. After that, gently clean the wound once or twice a day with cool water. Do not soak your wound. Use soap to clean around the wound, but try not to get any on the wound itself. Do not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to clean your wound unless you are directed to. Gently pat the area dry and reapply the bandage as directed.
  • Elevate your wound: Prop your injured area on pillows to raise it above the level of your heart. This will help reduce pain and swelling. Do this for 30 minutes at a time, as often as you can.
  • Bandage your wound: Bandages keep your wound clean, dry, and protected from infection. They may also prevent swelling. Use a bandage that does not stick to your wound, and has a spongy layer to absorb fluids. Leave your bandage on as long as directed. Ask your healthcare provider when and how to change your bandage. Do not wrap the bandage too tightly. This could cut off blood flow and cause more injury.
  • Use cool compresses: Wet a washcloth or towel with cool water and hold it on your wound as directed. Ask how often to apply the compress and for how long each time.
  • Reduce scarring: Avoid direct sunlight on your wound. Sunlight may burn or change the color of the new skin over your wound. Use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) on the new skin for at least 1 year after it heals.

Support for leg and arm wounds:

You may need to use crutches if the wound is on your leg. You may need to use a sling if the wound is on your arm. Crutches and slings help protect the injured area, prevent further injury, and heal the area in the right position.

Follow up with your healthcare provider within 2 days or as directed:

If you have stitches, ask when to return to have them removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have new pain, or it gets worse.
  • You have trouble moving the injured body area.
  • Your wound splits open or does not seem to be healing.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have painful swelling, redness, or warmth around your wound.
  • Your wound is red and there are red streaks on your skin starting at your wound and moving upward.
  • Your wound is draining pus.
  • You have heavy bleeding or bleeding that does not stop after 10 minutes of holding firm, direct pressure over the wound.
  • You feel like there is an object stuck in your wound.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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