An abrasion is a superficial injury caused by friction or pressure between the epidermis and some blunt object.

Only superficial layer of the skin is involved, due to which it bleeds less and heals without scarring.

  1. Scratch
  2. Graze (brush burn)
  3. Imprint or contact or patterned abrasion
  4. Friction abrasion
1. Scratch

It is a linear injury caused by a sharp object running across the skin, such as a nail.

The scratched epithelium is carried in front of the object and heaped up at the end, it indicates the direction of the object causing it.

2. Graze

When a broad surface of skin scratches against some surface, such as dragging a body on the road.

It resembles a burn –thus is also called a brush burn.

Initially there is a serrated border; and then a heaped up epithelium at the end. Distribution on the body depends on the position in which it was dragged.

3. Imprint or Contact or Patterned Abrasion

It is produced by a direct, vertical pressure by direct impact of an object on the body surface; it leaves its impression.

The shape of the object can be identified e.g.

  • Ligature mark in strangulation
  • Muzzle mark in contact fire arm injury
  • Beating (Whip marks)
  • Throttling (nail and thumb marks)
4. Friction Abrasion

These are produced by pressure of some linear object, accompanied with sliding movement.

E.g. abrasions around ligature mark in hanging and strangulatin

Anetmortem or Postmortem?
Antemortem Postmortem
Reddish brown to black in color Yellowish and translucent
Blurred margins Sharp edges
Surface is moist Surface is dry
Scab formation No scab formation
Inflammatory reaction No inflammatory reaction
Age of an Abrasion
Bright red Fresh
Red scab 12-24 hours
Reddish brown scab 2-3 days
Healing 4-7 days
Healing complete 7-10 days
Healing complete 7-10 days
Forensic Significance
  1. Site of impact –sometimes it may be the only external sign of a serious internal injury e.g. rupture of a viscera due to kick on abdomen
  2. Identification of object (in patterned abrasion)
  3. Circumstances of injury (e.g. about mouth and nose in smothering, genitals and thighs in rape)
  4. Direction of injury
  5. Time of injury

Helps in reconstruction of events

Bird Feet pattern of Abrasion

Multiple lacerations and abrasions following impact of the face with a broken car windscreen.

Check Also

Electric Injuries (Electrocution)

Damage to the tissues due to the passage of electric current is called electrical injury. …


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