A ‘skin tear’ can be defined as a traumatic wound and frequently seen among elderly people (+65, >80 years) primarilly at limbs (arms and legs), hands. The aging proces of the skin is the most important cause.


A skin tear appears when a fragile skin is hurt against a hard or sharp object. As shearing forces and friction can be an important risk factor. skin tears can be described as a loosening of the epidermal layer from the dermal layer or a loosening of the epidermal layer, together with the dermal layer from the underlying structures.

Very often, the case is very banal ( small, minor accidents which happens all the time at home, transfer from bed to wheelchaur, bed to seat etc).

Risk factors are being >80years, being women, immobility, usage of corticosteroids over a long period. Generally speaking, every nursing home patient is a patient at risk. Overall, skin tears are not life threatening; they are however often very painful. The care and treatment can be very expensive and often wound infection can be diagnosed. Most ofren, the skin tear wound classification of Payne and Martin is used to classify the gravity of the lesion (without loss of tissue/partial loss of tissue / total loss of skin tissue). In literature it is very difficult to find proper findings about prognosis, evolution toward a chronic wound and relapse. The average time needed to heal a skin tear can be estimated at 10 tot 21 days. In most of the cases, patients have multiple skin tears; average 2.5 to 2.6 skin tears/patient.