As we get older, our skin becomes paper thin and is more fragile. A minor injury like bumping into furniture or even removing a band-aid can cause a significant skin tear.

Skin tears are commonly seen on the arms, hands, and legs. They occur when the outer layer of the skin breaks or tears from the bottom layer of the skin. The skin could even peel back or come off completely.

There is no way to fully prevent skin tears, but there are some extra steps you can take to protect and prevent a tear.

Ways to prevent skin tears:

  • Clean, moisturize and protect your skin. Use a no-rinse, pH-balanced soap for bathing. Moisturize your skin twice a day with a cream rather than lotions to keep your skin moist. Wear long sleeves, pants, and protective footwear. Avoid wearing clothing that can injure your skin such as clothing that is too tight or has zippers.
  • Keep hydrated. Drink water and avoid excessive alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine to prevent skin dryness.
  • Keep the nails on your fingers and toes short. Try not to scratch your skin with your fingernails.
  • Pad or cushion sharp edges and items such as wheelchairs or hard objects in your home like table corners or bed frames.
  • Avoid any kind of tape or adhesive on the skin at all costs. Use a non-stick dressing and a wrap gauze to cover wounds.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. A healthy meal should include lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy products, nuts, beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables to promote wound healing.
  • Keep your home safe. Have adequate lighting in your home or at work to avoid bumps or falls.

Depending on the size and severity, skin tears can take a long time to heal. Always consult with your primary care provider or a wound care specialist if at any time you have concerns about drainage, redness, swelling, increased pain or lack of healing in a wound.

Kelly Eells APNP
About the Author

Kelly Eells, APNP, is a certified wound & ostomy nurse practitioner at HFM Wound Clinic. Call (920) 320-2840 to schedule an appointment.