Assessment, prevention and management of skin tears

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Assessment, prevention and management of skin tears

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Skin tears are common in older people. They are acute wounds that are at high risk of becoming complex, chronic wounds due to the interplay between the physiological changes in the skin and trauma from the external environment. Skin tears have been reported to have prevalence rates equal to, or greater than, those for pressure ulcers. A comprehensive risk assessment should include assessment of the individual’s general health (chronic/critical disease, polypharmacy and cognitive, sensory and nutritional status); mobility (history of falls, impaired mobility, dependent activities of daily living, and mechanical trauma); and skin (extremes of age, fragile skin and previous skin tears). A recognised classification system should be used to identify and document skin tears and guide treatment decisions in line with local wound management protocols. Nurses and carers are in a prime position to prevent, assess and manage skin tears.

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