Skin Tear Wounds

What are Skin Tear wounds ?

The term “ Skin Tear wounds” refers to wounds, that is caused by shear, friction and /or blunt force resulting in separation

of skin layers. A skin tear can be partial thickness (separation of the epidermis from the dermis) or full thickness (separation of both the epidermis and dermis from underlying structures)

Why do Skin Tear wounds occur ?

Skin Tear Injuries:

  • Happen in patient with abnormal fragile skin, i.e. newborns, the elderly and people who are chronically ill. Long-term use of steroids can also increase the risk. Can happen as a result of 
    • bumping something
    • dressing changes
    • washing or drying the skin harshly. 
  • They most often happen on the arms or legs.

What Forms of Skin Tear wounds are there?

Skin Tear Injuries can be classified using the ISTAP classification:

What are the consequences of Skin tear wounds?

When skin tear wounds are not well identified, their treatment by an inexperienced treatment team results in:

  • Prolonged treatment duration with significant impairment of the patient
  • Poor treatment outcome
  • Increased complication rate, including permanent damage

How can you treat a Skin Tear wound ?


The best way to treat skin tears is to ensure they never happen in the first place. Preventative measures to practice include:

STAR pathway for treatment of Skin Tear wounds

If the skin flap cannot be completely re-adapted, a specialized clinic (plastic and reconstructive surgery) should be consulted. The torn skin can be fixed in the same way as a skin graft and in most cases allowed to heal. The patient can be spared lengthy and painful secondary wound healing processes