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Skin Health for Seniors - Preventing Skin Tears

Updated: Mar 12, 2023


Elderly persons hands

As we age our skin becomes thin and more vulnerable to damage including skin tears and pressure injuries. These injuries can cause serious pain for seniors, take a long time to heal, or worse, lead to further health complications.


Fortunately, skin tears can be reduced or avoided with lifestyle changes and protective garments.


What happens to skin as we age?


As we age, our skin….

  • loses elasticity and becomes thinner

  • takes longer to heal

  • is more vulnerable to tearing and bruising

  • becomes dry due to a decreased ability to hold moisture - this can lead to cracking and splitting

  • decreases in sensory perception which means it is more difficult to detect pain and temperature changes

  • develops deep folds which can result in bacterial infections

Elderly person's legs

The skin, which is our largest organ, acts as a barrier to keep infections out of the body.


As such, it plays a key role in protecting our health and should be treated with utmost care, especially as we age.


Maintaining skin health is essential to the wellbeing of seniors and should be a key consideration in care.


Are skin tears in seniors harmful?


When treated properly, skin tears in the elderly can heal completely. However, there is a chance of infection, especially for those with diabetes or thyroid-related diseases. Infection can have a impact on the quality of life and be costly to treat.

Skin tears in the elderly can often go unnoticed initially, which leads to a higher risk of infection. These tears are similar to common wounds such as scrapes, cuts, and punctures.


However, due to the fragile nature of the skin of older adults, they may have trouble healing and become complex, chronic wounds.


Even if a skin tear seems minor, it’s usually best to see a health care provider for seniors, especially for those at risk of infection.


How to prevent skin tears


The positive news is, skin tears are usually preventable.


According to the standardised care process (SCP) developed by the Australian Centre for Evidence Based Care (ACEBAC) the recommended steps for skin tear prevention include:


• ensuring a safe environment with adequate lighting, removing trip hazards and excess furniture, and applying padding to equipment and furniture

• protecting fragile skin on the limbs with protective garments

• reducing carer factors that contribute to injury (such as nail length and jewellery)


• introducing a good skin care regimen based on the condition of the skin: – use of a skin-friendly (soapless or pH-neutral) cleanser – gentle application of preservative-free, non-aqueous-based skin moisturisers twice daily (this should be an ointment if the skin condition is good or a lotion if the skin is fragile)

• maintaining optimal nutrition and hydration status

• regularly reviewing medications

• controlling moisture from incontinence and other sources

• appropriately positioning prosthetics and other peripheral access devices that have contact with the skin


Products for preventing skin tears


Specially developed limb protectors can guard thin, weak or fragile skin and prevent skin tears.


We supply a selection of DermaSaver products which protect fragile skin from sustaining damage caused by friction, rubbing, abrasion and pressure that could lead to skin breakdowns, tears and splits.


Person wearing DermaSaver Arm Tube

DermaSavers can also help to heal existing skin tears, splits and lacerations without the restriction of bandages and dressings.

If you have any questions at all about a product, please reach out to our friendly team on info@adaptiveclothingaustralia.com


References


 

About Adaptive Clothing Australia

We are a Brisbane-based, family run business with more than 22 years' experience working with aged care mobility products and clothing. We pride ourselves on delivering quality services with a caring, personal touch. Our team of experts is dedicated to providing you with the most accurate and reliable information to help you make informed decisions about your adaptive clothing needs.

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