Case scenario

Mary, 73, a regular customer at your pharmacy, presents with an injury to her ankle that has resulted in some torn skin and bleeding. She knocked her ankle in the supermarket across the road. What assessment should you make, and what management advice should you give? Is referral to a doctor appropriate?

Learning objectives

After successful completion of this CPD activity, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Describe the classification of skin tears
  • Discuss management options for skin tears
  • Discuss prevention strategies for skin tears
  • Explain the role of the pharmacist in managing skin tears.

Competency standards (2016) addressed: 1.1, 1.4. 1.5, 2.4.

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Introduction

People with aged and fragile skin are at increased risk of skin tears, a significant problem for patients and the healthcare professionals who treat them. Skin tear wounds can be painful, causing distress and affecting quality of life. They can result in hospitalisation and prolong a hospital stay, and are often preventable.1–3

The International Skin Tear Advisory Panel defines a skin tear as ‘a traumatic wound caused by mechanical forces, including removal of adhesives.’1,3

Mechanical forces causing a skin tear injury are commonly shear, friction or blunt trauma, resulting in the separation of the skin layers, which can lead to the creation of a flap of skin.2 The classification of a skin tear is based on the extent of skin flap loss.1,2

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