Skin tears develop more readily in aging adults but can also occur in younger individuals who take corticosteroids, have a history of previous skin tears or suffer from malnourishment. Dr. Lawrence E. Gibson, Mayo Clinic, says genetics and collagen loss from excess sun exposure can also result in tears when the skin experiences trauma. Skin tears develop when the epidermal layer of skin separates from the dermal layer.
Slip on a pair of clean surgical gloves before tending to the skin tear. The surgical gloves will reduce the chances of transferring bacteria to the wound site.
Cleanse the skin tear with saline solution or wound cleaner as soon as possible. Place a thick, clean towel under the part of the body affected by the skin tear to catch any overflow as you saturate the wound with cleaning solution.
Pat the immediate area surrounding the wound with a second clean towel to help remove excess cleaning solution. The wound should air-dry before bandaging.
Position the torn flap of skin back into place if it is present. Skin flaps are not present in all tears, but if a full or partial flap is visible, gently slide it back into place using your gloved fingers.
Cover the skin tear with a jelly gauze bandage or silicone foam bandage. Cut either bandage slightly larger than the wound itself using a sharp pair of shears. At least 1-inch of excess bandage should surround the perimeter of the skin tear. Gently lay the bandage in place over the wound.
Press lightly around the skin tear using your gloved fingers in order to adhere the silicone foam bandage to the skin around the wound. If you are using a jelly gauze bandage, secure it in place by wrapping rolled gauze around the bandage. Secure the gauze with surgical tape. Do not attach the tape to the skin.
Remove the bandage every five days. Clean the skin tear with the wound cleaner or saline solution after removal, replacing with a fresh bandage. Repeat the process until the skin tear heals. Healed skin tears no longer show signs of oozing, discoloration or swelling. The dermal layer is no longer visible either.
Precautionary measures include applying a body moisturizer twice daily, wearing long sleeve shirts and pants and staying well hydrated by drinking at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day.
Seek medical attention immediately if yellow pus, crusting or severe pain develops around the skin tear. This could be a sign that an infection requiring oral or topical antibiotics.