What is an avulsion?

An avulsion is a forcible tearing off of skin or another part of the body, such as an ear or a finger. Any time layers of skin have been torn off to expose muscles, tendons and tissue, it is called an avulsion. An amputation, such as getting a limb caught in a piece of heavy machinery, is also considered an avulsion.

Types of avulsions

A common type of avulsion is a skin avulsion from a car accident, which may result in a "torn" flap of skin. Another example of avulsion is a finger that's been partially severed with a kitchen knife. Other types include:

  • Brachial plexus (nerves running from neck to armpit)
  • Ear
  • Eyelid
  • Nail
  • Periosteal (fibrous substance surrounding bones)
  • Tooth

There are also surgical avulsions to relieve certain conditions, such as a small incision avulsion to remove varicose veins or a nail avulsion to prevent an ingrown toenail from growing back.

Avulsions treatment options

You may need immediate medical attention for an avulsion, depending on the severity of the wound. Treatment may include antibiotic ointment for the affected area, as well as medication and possibly a tetanus shot if you haven't had one in awhile. Avulsions do not require stitches because the skin is missing and there's nothing to stitch together. The healing process may be lengthy, and there is likely to be scarring.