Preventing & Treating Skin Tears in Seniors

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The natural aging process often leads to fragile skin that’s susceptible to tears and other injuries. It’s important for seniors to prevent breakdown and other damage to the topmost layer of the skin. Abrasions and tears can lead to infection, especially in seniors with compromised immune systems, diabetes, and circulatory issues. Here are some ways to prevent and treat skin tears in the elderly.

Encourage Fluid Intake

One of the most common causes of skin tears in the elderly is dehydration. It’s important that your aging loved one drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep the skin hydrated and resistant to tears and other damage. While drinking fluids is important, make sure your loved one isn’t on a fluid restricted diet because of congestive heart failure or otherwise. Drinking too much water may exacerbate the symptoms of congestive heart failure, such as shortness of breath and edema. If your loved one’s physician suggests drinking plenty of fluids, limit your loved one’s intake of caffeinated beverages, as these can further dehydrate and dry out the skin. If skin tears develop as a result of dehydration, clean the area with sterile water and place a sterile 4×4 piece of gauze over the affected area to prevent further injury.

Avoid Friction Shear

Because the skin can thin as people age, avoiding friction shear is important. Friction shear refers to the tearing of the skin when friction is induced. This commonly occurs when a person in bed is exposed to the rough fabric of a sheet. When moving around in the bed, the friction from the material can shear the top layer of the skin, which can lead to a skin tear. If your loved one has skin tears but doesn’t remember where they came from, examine the sheets for signs of blood, which may indicate the wounds are a direct result of friction shear. Put a dab of over-the-counter antibacterial ointment over the affected area and cover with a sterile gauze pad or bandage. Change the dressing every day, then expose the area to air when almost healed. 

Trained home caregivers can help seniors manage severe skin tears and prevent further trauma. Although it may be challenging to find reliable, highly rated home care, Mesa, Arizona, families can turn to Home Care Assistance. Our respite and live-in caregivers are expertly trained to assist seniors with a wide array of important tasks, including cooking, bathing, light housekeeping, and exercise.

Address Vitamin C Deficiencies

Vitamin C is essential to healthy collagen formation. Seniors often lose collagen, which makes their skin vulnerable to skin tears, friction wounds, and bruising. Encourage your loved one to eat more vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, grapefruit, and broccoli. If your loved one doesn’t enjoy eating these foods, talk to his or her physician about over-the-counter vitamin C supplements. Make sure you discuss the recommended dosage with the doctor because too much vitamin C can lead to side effects such as heartburn, stomach upset, and diarrhea. If your loved one develops a skin tear or abrasion as a result of a vitamin C deficiency or loss of collagen, placing a thin layer of petroleum jelly on the abrasion may reduce irritation. 

If your loved one needs encouragement to consume more vitamin C-rich foods or focus on other healthy lifestyle habits, consider hiring an in-home caregiver. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional elderly home care. Mesa, AZ, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.

Moisturize the Skin

As people age, their skin’s protective layer can decrease, and skin tears and other damage can easily occur. Older adults should keep their skin moisturized with a high-quality lotion. If your loved one is unable to use a moisturizing lotion because of skin sensitivities or allergies, petroleum jelly is an effective alternative. It’s especially important to keep the skin moisturized during winter when cold, dry air makes the skin vulnerable to skin tears. If your loved one still develops skin tears despite adequate moisturizing, suggest wearing long sleeves to protect the skin until the tears have healed.

Although skin tears can occur at any age, seniors are at high risk. If you’re the primary family caregiver for a senior loved one living in Mesa, live-in care is available if your loved one’s health has become too difficult to manage without professional expertise. At Home Care Assistance, we take measures to help seniors prevent illness and injury by assisting with exercise and mobility, preparing nutritious meals, helping with bathing and other personal hygiene tasks, and much more. Call us at (480) 699-4899 today to learn more about our in-home care programs for seniors.