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Skin Tear

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What do I need to know about a skin tear?

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 my risk for a skin tear?

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

How is a skin tear treated?

Treatment may include any of the following:

  • Medicines may be given to decrease pain or treat a bacterial infection.
  • Bandages such as moist 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.
  • Stitches or medical glue may be used to close the wound so it can heal.
  • Debridement is removal of dead, damaged, or infected skin to help your wound heal correctly.

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 lukewarm 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. Do not drag 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 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 another skin tear.
  • Eat high-protein foods to help with wound healing. Examples are lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy products, and beans.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have redness, swelling, pus, or a bad odor coming from your wound.
  • You have severe pain.
  • Your wound tears open again.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

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 healthcare providers 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.

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Further information

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