Skin Tears

“A skin tear is a traumatic wound caused by mechanical forces, including removal of adhesives”.

Skin tears are most common in older people and it is increasingly acknowledged that they are largely preventable.1

What is a skin tear and how is it caused?

A skin tear can occur as a result of mechanical forces (shearing or friction), blunt trauma, falls, poor handling, equipment injury, or removal of an adhesive dressing. They most frequently occur on the hands and arms, but can occur on any part of the body. The severity of skin tears can vary in depth; however, it may not extend through the subcutaneous layer.1

How to treat patients with a skin tear?

Stop the bleeding

Cleanse the wound

Realign the skin flap if possible

Classify, measure and document the skin tear

Dress the wound with an appropriate dressing

ISTAP Classification System

TYPE 1: No Skin Loss
TYPE 2: Partial Flap Loss
TYPE 3: Total Flap Loss

Linear or flap tear which can be repositioned to cover the wound bed.

Partial flap loss cannot be repositioned to cover the wound bed.

Total flap loss exposing entire wound bed.

“A non-adherent mesh contact layer, such as a lipidocolloid mesh, is one of the recommended dressings for use on lower limb skin tears” – LeBlanc et al, 2018.

The UrgoTul Family of dressings feature a unique TLC-healing matrix (lipidocolloid), which has been used and trusted by healthcare professionals for more than 20 years.

For the Patient1

  • The unique TLC provides gentle protection and support for wound healing2,3
  • Maintains a moist wound healing environment and promotes fibroblast proliferation2
  • It prevents adherence to the wound bed and allows pain-free dressing changes and harm-free care4,5,6
  • It can stay in place for up to 7 days for undisrupted wound healing

UrgoTul Absorb Border in Practice

Advice for Treatment:

  • You can mark UrgoTul Absorb Border with an arrow and the dressing change date to indicate when to change the dressing and the direction of removal to reduce the risk of disturbance.
  • Promote patient dialogue to encourage and empower patients/carers or family members to engage in the care of their skin tear.


Like with all wounds, prevention is the aim.

There are a number of ways to prevent skin tears occurring, ranging from general health improvements and mobility considerations, to good skin health. Here are some ways to prevent skin tear occurence:

For the Patient1

  • Encourage good nutrition and hydradtion.
  • Exercise (when possible)
  • Protective clothing
  • Moisturising skin
  • Short finger nails

For the Caregiver1

  • Safe patient environment
  • Daily skin assessments
  • Safe patient handling / equipment
  • Avoid sharp fingernails / jewellery
  • Avoid strong adhesives and dressings


If you’d like to book a training session or speak to a product specialist about skin tears, please get in touch.


1. LeBlanc K et al (2018) Best practice recommendations for the prevention and management of skin tears in aged skin. Wounds International; London. Available from:

2. Bernard FX. , Barrault C. et al., Stimulation of the proliferation of human dermal fbroblasts in vitro by a lipidocolloïd dressing. Journal of Wound Care, May 2005; 14 (5) : 215-220. (Study conducted on Urgotul)

3. FX. Bernard, F. Juchaux et al., Effets d’un pansement lipido-colloïde sur la production de matrice extracellulaire.Journal des Plaies et Cicatrisations, 2007. (Study conducted on Urgotul)

4. M. Le Berre, Y. Lurton et al., Pansements imprégnés : tulles/ interfaces. Poster, CPC 2005, Paris.

5. Parpex P. et al. Management of venous leg ulcers with Cellosorb® Micro-adherent dressing: results of a multi-centre clinical trial. Phlebologie 2010; 63: 76-82

6. Meaume et al. The importance of pain reduction through dressing selection in routine wound management:the MAPP study, Journal of Wound Care, 2004, Vol 13, No 10, 409-413