Excoriation of the skin refers to lesions on the surface of the skin, following a trauma. The blood and fluids that emerge from the surface form a thin crust, resulting in a skin lesion. There are two main types of lesions: primary and secondary. This occurrence is quite common in adults and children, following a slip, fall or rub against a wall. There are also certain factors that can affect and increase the risk of excoriation of the skin. They include individuals with other skin conditions, stress, trauma, fear, genetics, as well as anxiety disorders that can trigger itching.

If an individual crosses the line, excoriation of the skin can turn into a skin picking disorder. When this happens, picking at a scab or the skin can become so frequent and intense that it can lead to bleeding, infection, sores, and permanent scars. The most commonly affected areas include the head, neck, forearm, ankle, and wrist.  Usually, excoriation of the skin goes away on its own without the need for treatment. It’s hard to say when it becomes a serious problem that needs treatment. In regards to severe cases, undergoing psychotropic drug therapy prescribed by a dermatologist may be helpful and an appropriate form of treatment.

Seeking medical attention is essential in cases when:

  • Scratching becomes frequent
  • The skin feels painful and looks infected
  • The itch disturbs sleeping patterns or performance of daily activities

What are the symptoms associated with excoriation of the skin?

Signs and symptoms of excoriation of the skin include the following:

  • Itchy skin patches
  • Thin crust on the affected areas
  • Redness of the affected area

What to do

The excoriation is a superficial injury and therefore is not a cause for concern. The crust tends to fall on its own without scarring. However, it is essential to care for the wound in the following ways:

  • Wash hands thoroughly
  • Flush the wound with water (soaking may also help remove scabs and dead skin)
  • Apply antibiotic cream or other medications if necessary
  • Apply a bandage to the affected area to keep it from getting infected
  • Maintain optimal hydration to function properly and keep immunity boosted
  • Keep the skin clean to avoid infection
  • See a doctor or dermatologist about any skin lesions, wounds, or scars caused by repetitive picking

What not to do

Instructions on what not to do regarding excoriation of the skin include the following:

  • Do not try to remove the crust, it will go away on its own within a few days
  • Do not pull or pick at the skin or nails
  • Avoid putting any foundation on the affected area
  • Do not pick at the affected area (it can lead to a more severe injury and keep the wound from healing)
  • Do not scrub the affected area as it may cause further damage to the skin
  • Do not itch the affected skin intensely (it can lead to bleeding and more skin lesions)


Disclaimer: The information in this article does not in any way replace the intervention or signs associated with this type of emergency, but rather only provides simple tips as how to keep the situation under control while waiting for a medical rescue team to arrive.