By Laurie Swezey RN, BSN, CWOCN, CWS, FACCWS
Skin tears are a common problem among the elderly due to increased skin fragility associated with aging. Due to the increasing prevalence of this problem, and the potential for poor and/or delayed wound healing in the elderly population, nurses should be aware of prevention strategies for skin tears, as well as management of skin tears once they have occurred.
Prevention of skin tears begins with identifying individuals who are at high risk for skin tears. Individuals at high risk are those who have suffered skin tears before, individuals with chronically dry skin, individuals with little or no subcutaneous fat and those who are also at high risk for falls. As you may have noticed, this describes almost the entire elderly population.
Prevention strategies should include:
Despite our best efforts at prevention, skin tears still occur. Should your patient experience a skin tear, management should involve the following:
Avoid removing the dressing for several days if possible. Mark the preferred direction of removal on the outside of the dressing so that the person removing the dressing does not inadvertently reopen the skin tear. Use a stocking-type dressing or tubular bandage to secure the dressing in place. When it is time to perform a dressing change, take care to remove the dressing in the direction indicated by the arrow, so as not to disturb the wound flap. Observe the wound for signs of infection and note the color of the flap tissue- if it is dusky or dark in color, this may indicate that the flap is non-viable.
Skin tears made easy. Wounds International 2(4) November. http://www.woundsinternational.com/made-easys/skin-tears-made-easy/page…
Bianchi J (2012) Preventing, assessing and managing skin tears. Nursing Times; 108: 13, 12-16. http://www.nursingtimes.net/nursing-practice/clinical-zones/wound-care/…
About The Author
Laurie Swezey RN, BSN, CWOCN, CWS, FACCWS is a Certified Wound Therapist and enterostomal therapist, founder and president of WoundEducators.com, and advocate of incorporating digital and computer technology into the field of wound care.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, HMP Global, its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.