Scraped knees are a common injury, but they’re also relatively easy to treat. Scraped knees usually occur when you fall or rub your knee against a rough surface. It’s not often a serious injury and can usually be treated at home.

However, there are some precautions to take so a scraped knee doesn’t become infected. Read on to learn how to safely treat a scraped knee at home.

Whether you scrape your knee from tripping on the sidewalk or falling off a bike, here’s how to treat it at home:

  1. Wash your hands. Germs can spread easily. Wash your hands, or make sure the person treating you washes their hands. This will help avoid the possibility of infection.
  2. Stop the bleeding. A scrape doesn’t usually bleed profusely. However, if your wound hasn’t stopped bleeding, use clean fabric or gauze to apply pressure to the scrape until it stops bleeding.
  3. Wash the scrape. Wash the scrape gently with water first. Use a nonirritating soap to wash around the wound. Don’t use hydrogen peroxide. It may irritate the wound.
  4. Remove debris. Often, a scrape contains debris such as dirt, sand, gravel, or dust. If your scrape has any debris, attempt to remove it. You can do this with a clean cloth or sterile tweezers.
  5. Apply antibiotic ointment. After removing any debris from the wound, rinse the knee with water, gently pat the wound dry with a clean cloth, and apply an antibiotic ointment. Examples include Neosporin and Bacitracin. You can buy them any drugstore and many supermarkets.
  6. Apply a bandage. Use a clean nonstick bandage to cover the wound. Be sure to change the bandage often, and gently wash the skinned knee daily.
  7. Watch for infection. When you change your bandage, make sure to check for signs of infection. If the skin around your wound remains red and inflamed and the wound is hot to the touch or has an odor, you may have an infection and should see your doctor.

A minor scrape in the skin will heal from the bottom up. Cells in the body will begin repairing the damaged skin closest to the inner body first. The middle of the wound will begin to look yellow while healing. This is normal and a good sign of skin growth.

A major scrape that removes all of the skin will heal from the outside in. The edges of the wound will begin healing before the middle.

A scab will often form. A scab is a good thing, since it protects the wound from germs. Refrain from picking it. Doing so could lead to an infection as well as unnecessary bleeding.

The scrape has the potential to become infected. Continue to monitor the scrape for infection as it heals. If you notice signs of infection, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Signs of infection may include:

  • yellow or green drainage from the wound
  • worsening redness near the wound
  • swelling or pain
  • red streaks around the area of the injury
  • heat radiating from the wound

While painful and uncomfortable, a scraped knee usually isn’t a serious injury. Be sure to keep the wound clean and use an antibiotic ointment. Keep the skinned knee covered to avoid any possibility of dirt or other debris getting in contact with the wound during the healing process.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of infection, see your doctor to avoid the scrape worsening.