For one of our patients named Judith, four years of pain began with what she called a “couple of simple scratches.” The wounds, caused by Judith accidentally bumping her leg into the sharp corner of her bedroom table, were small at the time and hardly noticeable. But because Judith was older and had chronically dry skin that didn’t stretch very easily, wounds that may have healed quickly in the past suddenly were more difficult to overcome. What made things even more frustrating was that they would sometimes get painfully worse if she removed the bandages too quickly. By the time Judith came to see us, she wasn’t moving around well at all and had all the makings of complex skin tears.
It should go without saying that identifying the warning signs of any slow-healing or difficult to treat wound is incredibly important, especially in the elderly and people who are chronically ill. These patients often represent the majority of the 6.7 million patients annually who suffer from chronic wounds. But while most people think of ulcers and surgical wounds as some of the more common wounds to be wary of, skin tears are just as formidable to aging skin and require expert care from a wound care professional such as our team here at StrideWoundCare.
Do you need a wound care nurse for your skin tears? Our experts create treatment plans to meet your unique needs. Call 214-285-9200 or request an appointment. Appointment
Wounds Are More Difficult As We Age
Complex wounds are difficult to manage and become more prevalent as we age. This is because our skin doesn’t receive as much moisture and nutrients from blood vessels as the years go by. As a result, our skin tends to be thinner, drier, and more fragile, offering much less protection from injury and resulting in slower healing times compared with younger and more pliable skin. As a result, people like Judith could do something as random as bump into a bedroom table, scratch themselves with their fingernails, or even remove a bandage too quickly on an existing wound and suffer severe consequences.
Many times, these incidents result in skin tears. According to the International Skin Tear Advisory Panel (ISTAP), skin tears are defined as a traumatic wound caused by mechanical forces, including removal of adhesives, caused by blunt force trauma or friction against the skin that creates a separation of skin layers. These are often acute wounds that start off looking similar to an abrasion but are unique in that the top layer of skin is separated from the under layers. This creates a “flap” of skin that can be peeled back and grows increasingly painful.
Skin tears can occur anywhere on the body, though the hands and arms are most vulnerable. They can also happen to anyone of any age, though it is estimated that skin tears currently affect 1.5 million elderly long-term care patients.
Those who are more at risk for skin tears includes:
- Elderly people
- Individuals with limited mobility
- Patients with a history of falls
- People with chronic illnesses
- Those with chronic dry skin
- Post-menopausal women
How Bad Are My Existing Skin Tears?
The ISTAP has classified skin tears into three primary tiers that all wound care professionals follow:
No Skin Loss (Type 1)
This is a skin tear in its earliest, most acute stage. It is characterized by a linear or flap tear complete enough that it can be repositioned to cover the wound bed. Skin tears at this stage have a higher healing probability as long as the skin flap is repositioned where it belongs, and the wound is wrapped.
Partial Flap Loss (Type 2)
Part of the flap over the wound bed has been lost or damaged enough that it cannot be properly repositioned to cover the wound itself. Skin tears that reach this stage can still respond to treatment and heal, but they do take much longer than Type 1.
Total Flap Loss (Type 3)
This is the worst grade for skin tears, as there is no longer a flap covering the wound. The entirety of the wound is exposed. As a result, very little can be done to close the skin tear, and dedicated treatment will be required to ensure the wound is kept as clean as possible to protect it from further damage. Skin tears that reach this stage are more complex and take the longest to heal.
Skin tears should not be ignored or overlooked! Call 214-285-9200 to request an appointment with our experts. Appointment
Regardless of how severe a patient’s skin tear is, the goal for any wound care professional is to prevent infection, protect the surrounding skin and tissues as much as possible, and keep the area moist to support healing. If your skin tears aren’t severe yet, and there is a fully functional flap over the wound bed, patients are advised to apply pressure to the wound as much as possible to stop any bleeding before gently laying the flap of skin back in place over the wound to apply dressings. Do not remove the skin flap, and do not stretch it too far.
If your skin tear is more advanced and appears to be getting worse, you need to schedule a visit with a wound care professional as quickly as possible. These injuries ultimately can become infected and lead to swelling that deprives damaged cells of critical oxygen. As a result, what appears to be a simple wound doesn’t heal as quickly. A quality treatment plan that is implemented early can improve wound healing outcomes. This is where having a wound care nurse in your corner can really help.
StrideWoundCare Are Experts for Skin Tears. Call Us Today!
In general, you will want to see a specialist if your skin tears aren’t showing signs of healing after two weeks or hasn’t healed completely after six weeks. Additional signs that you could be heading down a difficult path include redness and swelling in the affected area, increased pain, and an inability to move the affected area, and even pus or an odorous discharge.
We know having a wound that will not close can be troublesome and will likely impact your quality of life. We can help.
At StrideWoundCare, you will receive high-quality wound care from specially trained providers. Our experts can determine the root cause of why a wound will not heal to devise the right treatment plan from the start. Specialized care without a referral is available unless your insurance requires one. We also work closely with home care, home medical equipment, and other services to make sure you receive the support necessary for success.
At StrideWoundCare, our number one priority is helping you get better as quickly as possible. For a consultation with one of our experts, please contact us at 214-285-9200 or complete the appointment form.Appointment
This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Prior to starting any new treatment or questions regarding a medical condition, always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider.
StrideWoundCare serves the D/FW area including Highland Park, University Park, Park Cities, Plano, Frisco, Allen, McKinney, Irving, Grand Prairie, Denton, Flower Mound, Sherman, Dennison, HEB, Hutchins, Duncanville, DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Lancaster, Cockrell Hill, Dallas, Mesquite, Lewisville, Craig Ranch, Arlington, Fort Worth, Addison, Carrollton, Richardson, Garland, and all North Texas.