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Skin Tear


What do I need to know about skin tears?

A skin tear occurs when the layers of weakened skin split open from an injury. It is important to treat and prevent skin tears to prevent infection.

What increases the risk for skin tears?

  • Newborn and elderly ages
  • Chronic or critical illness
  • Long-term use of steroids

How is a skin tear treated?

  • Debridement is removal of dead, damaged, or infected skin to help your wound heal correctly.
  • Wound closure is done by joining the torn edges of the skin around your wound. Your healthcare provider may use stitches or glue to keep the wound closed.
  • Bandages such as moist saline gauze pads or wraps may be placed on your wound. Bandages will help protect your wound from more injury, and allow your wound to heal. Do not use adhesive bandages. These could stick to your wound and make your skin tear worse.
  • Medicines may be given to reduce your pain, or to prevent or treat a bacterial infection.

How can I help prevent a 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.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • 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.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have a fever.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.