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Skin Tear


A skin tear occurs when the layers of weakened skin split open from an injury. Newborn, elderly, and chronically or critically ill people are at higher risk for skin tears. Long-term use of steroids can also increase the risk. It is important to treat and prevent skin tears to prevent infection.



  • Medicines may be given to reduce your pain or to treat or prevent an infection. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her 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.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Wound care:

You may be referred to a wound specialist who will teach you how to clean your wound properly. Ask for more information about wound care.

Prevent another skin tear:

  • Clean, moisturize, and protect your skin. Baths, hot showers, and soap can dry your skin and increase your risk for skin tears. Take tepid showers, use mild soap as directed, and gently pat your skin dry. Use lotion to keep your skin moist after you shower. Wear long sleeves, pants, and protective footwear.
  • Move carefully. Ask for help if you cannot lift yourself well enough to avoid dragging your skin when you move.
  • Keep your home safe. Cover sharp corners, keep your pathways clear, and turn on lights so you can see clearly. Ask for more information if you have questions about home safety.
  • Drink liquids as directed. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Liquids will help keep your skin moist and protected from future skin tears.
  • Eat high-protein foods. Examples are lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy products, and beans. A dietitian may help you create high-protein meal plans to help with wound healing.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have redness, swelling, pus, or a bad odor coming from your wound.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have increased pain, even after you take pain medicine.
  • Your wound tears open again.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have a fever.

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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.