Wound and Skin Care: Demystifying skin tears, part 1
Kimberly A. LeBlanc BSCN, MHSCN, RN, CETN-C, IIWCC
Dawn Christensen BSCN, MHSCN, RN, CETN-C, IIWCC

December 2010 
Volume 40  Number 12
Pages 62 - 63
  PDF Version Available!

SKIN TEARS are a challenging type of laceration commonly seen in older adults but frequently mismanaged. In the United States, 1.5 million skin tears occur each year in older adults who are hospitalized or living in long-term-care facilities.1 This article focuses on understanding skin tears and which patients are at risk. Part 2 will focus on managing and preventing skin tears.Skin tears are traumatic wounds, most often occurring on the extremities, in which shearing or friction causes the epidermis to separate from the dermis, or the epidermis and the dermis to separate from underlying structures.2 Older adults are at higher risk for skin tears for various age-related reasons (more on these shortly).3 Compared to more extensive and costly pressure ulcers, skin tears are often considered minor, inconsequential wounds. In reality, these wounds are painful and can lead to complications such as infection if not treated appropriately.4Nearly 80% of skin tears occur on the arms and hands,

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