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Skin tear prevention in older adults

02 October 2022
Volume 27 · Issue 10

Skin tears are common among the elderly population, both in hospital and in the community. Older adults are especially vulnerable since they experience a slower healing time and are at-risk of developing potentially complex and long-term problems. It is the duty of healthcare workers to recognise and prevent such risks.

Campbell et al (2018) state that many of the misunderstandings or misdiagnoses surrounding skin tears have resulted from a more specific terminology, classifying them as wounds. Such misdiagnoses can lead to skin tears going unrecognised and without documentation. An expert working group from Wounds International (2018) defined a skin tear as:

‘a traumatic wound caused by mechanical forces, including removal of adhesives. Severity may vary by depth (not extending through the subcutaneous layer). Skin tears are traumatic wounds that may result from a variety of mechanical forces such as shearing or frictional forces, including blunt trauma, falls, poor handling, equipment injury or removal of adherent dressings’.

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