As a result of multiple factors, superficial skin tears are very common as people get older. They can often be caused by minor trauma such as bumping against something (the edge of the dishwasher is all too common), a fall or even someone grabbing an arm too vigorously. With age the skin loses some of its’ supportive structures and strength. The underlying capillaries and blood vessels also become more fragile and as a result break more easily causing bleeding and bruising. Past sun exposure and smoking are additional factors that aggravate skin problems like this. We recommend the following when people sustain a skin tear
- Clean the area carefully with water or saline solution.
- Try to cover the wound with the skin that is torn, as best as possible.
- Use a daily antibiotic ointment, like Neosporin, on the wound.
- Apply a non-stick dressing over the wound.
- Wrap gauze around the area, over the non-stick dressing, and apply tape on the gauze to hold it in place (avoid tape on the skin as sometimes tape removal can cause the skin to tear further).
- Change the dressing daily.
- Once the wound is dry, it can be left open to air, especially in a clean and dry environment.
- Watch for signs of infection and report this to the doctor, such as increasing redness or streaking, colored drainage, increasing pain or increasing swelling.
- Insure that tetanus immunization is current (normally every 10 years but can repeat sooner, after five years, if it is a dirty wound).