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Effectiveness of moisturiser for the prevention of skin tears in older adults residing in long-term care facilities: a clinical review

01 September 2023


In long-term care facilities the treatment of skin tears often takes a lot of nursing time, is costly and can negatively impact the residents’ quality of life. The purpose of this clinical review was to investigate whether the application of moisturising lotion is beneficial in skin tear reduction in older adults residing in long-term care facilities. A literature review of original studies investigating the effect of moisturising lotion on skin tears in older adults (65+ years) was conducted. Results indicate that a minimum of twice daily application of moisturising lotion with neutral pH can reduce skin tears by 50% compared to usual care. Therefore, routine skin moisturising is recommended as one component of a skin tear prevention programme for this demogrpahic.

In long-term care (LTC) facilities, treatment of skin tears often takes a lot of nursing time, is costly and can negatively impact on the quality of life of residents. While skin tears may not be life-threatening, they are a painful injury that can also be disfiguring (Fleck, 2007). Skin tears can sometimes become infected, which can cause more suffering to the residents (Rayner et al, 2015). There is a general interest towards reducing skin tears, but often, what is seen as a reasonable action—for example the use of moisturisers—may not be supported by an evidence-base. There is an ongoing demand for LTC providers to practice using evidence-based guidelines to improve delivery of the quality of care.

Ageing is associated with structural and functional changes of the skin that result in increased vulnerability (Kottner et al, 2013). A healthy skin provides the primary protection for the body against external injuries and is essential in the maintenance of general homeostasis (Bonté et al, 2019). Thinning, reduced elasticity and other age-related changes of the dermis and epidermis (chronological ageing), as well as sun damage (photoaging), change the skin's ability to resist damage and injury, such as a skin tear (Koyano et al, 2016; Bonifant and Holloway, 2019).

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