Skin Tears in the Elderly

  • September 17, 2019
  • by Olivia S.
  • general

Skin tears in the elderly are wounds caused by bumps or friction. However, this condition is not the same as a cut or a serious wound. The skin consists of several layers, and skin tears do not pass through the lower layer of the skin, called the dermis. Therefore, they do not pose a serious health threat. However, skin tears can occur regularly and cause a lot of problems. Also, do not forget that even a simple infection from a wound can have serious consequences.

What causes skin tears?

The risk of skin tears in the elderly is great due to the fact that with age the skin becomes weaker, thinner, less elastic and drier. Often a small bump can cause bleeding. Modern research has confirmed that the risk of getting skin tears at an older age increases due to sun exposure throughout your life. Therefore, it is important to use sunscreen and wear clothing that protects your skin from the sun. Also, adults’ poor nutrition increases the risk of skin tears. This happens because the skin cells do not receive the necessary nutrients and the skin becomes fragile and less elastic.

How to prevent skin tears

There’s nothing special or sophisticated when addressing how to prevent skin tears. You should first take the ordinary security measures, such as:

  • Organize the living space in such a way that your loved one can avoid possible collisions with open doors or furniture. Keep items out of walkways. Look around and remove sharp objects.

  • Prevent falls and provide the house with sufficient lighting to avoid accidents.

  • Change bandages or peel off patches with a high level of accuracy, without any sharp movements.

  • Use special socks for the elderly. They will mitigate possible collisions and prevent the appearance of skin tears.

  • Watch your loved one’s diet. It is advisable to eat fatty fish, nuts, spinach, and tomatoes.

  • Use skin moisturizers. Apply a sufficient amount of сream to your loved one’s hands and feet. It is recommended you do this twice daily. This is even more important if you live in very cold or very hot regions or homes.

  • Keep your love done hydrated. Elderly people must drink plenty of water, which also helps to keep their skin more elastic.


In some cases, seniors cannot independently avoid situations that cause skin tears. For example, they can occur due to poor vision. Thus, constant care and monitoring of the elderly is required. If relatives cannot provide this for them, then they should contact specialists such as the helpful staff at Buffalo Home Care. 

We can provide you with long or short-term help in caring for seniors. This can include supervision, visiting, help with running a home (cooking, cleaning, repairs), hygiene assistance (toileting, bathing, help with eating and so on). Make sure that your loved one receives the best care, and skin tears will be avoided.

Treatment for skin tears

When treating skin tears, the wound should be cleansed gently with saline or water, but not with hydrogen peroxide. After that, the wound must be dried carefully. If a skin flap remains, then it should not be removed. Place it on top of the wound and apply a bandage.

Zinc ointment applied to the bandage is successfully used to treat skin tears. Studies have confirmed that zinc has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. This contributes to the accelerated regeneration of skin cells, making it a good treatment at home. However, even after the successful handling of skin tears at home, we recommend consulting your doctor to check whether the tear needs additional medical treatment. 

about the author

Olivia S.

Olivia S. has been a caregiver for her parents for 15 years. She has a master's degree in Public Health and has always been passionate about helping people with disabilities. Now Olivia works as a professional caregiver for in-home care services.


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