Skin Tears in the Elderly: Causes, Prevention, Treatment

Just like the rest of your body, as you age, so does your skin. It wrinkles and loses its elasticity. Bruising becomes a larger issue as well. This is simply a fact of life, so you and your loved one’s will want to know the causes, prevention, and treatment of skin tears before they happen to you or someone you care about.

Causes of Skin Tears in the ElderlyNurse taking care of senior woman in retirement home bandaging a wound

If you’ve been wondering what causes skin tears in the elderly, they typically happen due to an accident. This can be something as simple as bumping into an object such as a bathroom door or cabinet in the kitchen. Skin tears can also happen when there is direct trauma to the skin.

When you think of trauma, you may imagine a serious accident, but in reality, it can be just removing dressing or tape that is attached to the skin.

Like many things in life, the best course of action it to prevent skin tears before they happen.

Preventing Skin Tears in the Elderly

There are a number of ways to prevent skin tears in the elderly that you can do right at home, and most of them are pretty easy to do.

    • Use moisturizer: Be sure to use plenty of moisturizer on both your arms and legs. This is especially important in the winter if you live in a colder, dryer climate or in an arid area such as Arizona.
    • Eat the right foods: Some of the best foods for your skin include fatty fish, tomatoes, spinach, and nuts.
    • Drink water: You want to stay hydrated, as being dehydrated leads to dry skin, and dry skin tears more easily.
    • Arrange your surroundings properly: A lot of skin tears are caused by bumping into furniture, so you’ll want to make sure there is plenty of light so you can see where everything is. You should also keep items out of walkways.

 

Best Treatment for Skin Tears in the Elderly

When it comes to how to treat skin tears in the elderly, the number one goal is to keep the tear from becoming infected and protecting the surrounding skin. If the skin flap is still attached and hasn’t been damaged, then the best thing you can do is put it back into its original position and then use a light dressing.

If it is bleeding, go ahead and apply pressure and elevate it to stop the bleeding. Clean the area with water or saline and not hydrogen peroxide. Let the area dry and be sure not to rub it. If the skin flap is still attached, lay it back down in place without stretching it, and then go ahead and use a dressing.

If the skin tear is severe or you are uncomfortable with caring for it yourself, be sure to go to the doctor. This is especially true if it looks infected at all.

How to treat a skin tear in the elderly isn’t too difficult. Again, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but chances are, you can clean and dress the area without problem and then take action to keep a new skin tear from happening again.