Skin tears can occur in any person, but people with delicate skin, the elderly and neonates are more prone to getting them than others. This is also because elderly people and neonates are often dependent on other people for their care and sometimes even something as little as a long fingernail can cause a skin tear. Depending on the intensity and the depth of the skin tear, it can be a serious problem, especially if not handled properly and with care. A skin tear basically occurs when trauma causes the upper layer of the skin to separate from the lower layer. If treated with care and precaution, a skin tear can heal pretty soon.
When a person gets a skin tear, the first thing to do is to stop the bleeding. This can be achieved by putting pressure on the wound. Once the bleeding stops, the next step is cleaning the wound properly and disinfecting it. The best way to do this using warm saline water. When cleaning the wound, it is important to do it gently. Rubbing the skin will only make the tear worse and the wound will become aggravated.
After the wound is clean, it should be covered with a bandage. Using an ointment is a good idea, but this should not been done without the consultation of a doctor. Once the wound is bandaged, the dressing has to be changed every second day. With skin tears, the chance of the wound getting infected is very real. When changing the dressing, it is important to check for signs of infection and to call the doctor immediately if anything is in an untoward condition.
Skin tears usually do not require sutures or staples, as the cuts are not that deep and sutures can do more damage than helping. If the skin needs to be patched up before dressing the wound, it is better to use surgical glue which is easily available and simple to use. However, if the tear is too deep and has been caused by blunt force trauma or an attack, rather than the skin being too sensitive, proper medical attention is needed and sutures might be required to close the wound properly.
Most skin tears can be avoided if the care providers are vigilant when handling the elderly or the neonates. Trimming nails, staying clear of sharp objects and gently handling the persons can make a lot of difference. Dry skin also contributes to skin tears so moisturizing the skin regularly can help keep it soft and safe from tears. Cortisone creams, used for an extended period of time, can also cause the skin to become more sensitive and thus susceptible to skin tears. Some diseases such as renal failure and heart problems can also put an individual at a higher risk of skin tears as the medication for these conditions and its overall effects have a negative impact on the skin’s elasticity.
Skin tears can occur anywhere on the body and there is no specific area which is more prone to get these. However, an area where there is already a skin tear becomes more liable to new skin tears.