Our skin is our largest organ and acts as a protective barrier against external forces. Some of the skins most import functions are to protect us from heat or cold, to stop unwanted organisms from entering the body and protection against impacts including friction and shear forces. We also sense our surroundings through our skin!
So our skin is very important for our well-being and if it is allowed to be damaged by even seemingly minor things like friction or shear forces in an older person with frail skin it may lead to nasty wounds and sores.
The causes of fragile skin and frail skin are many and varied, for example the extended use of some medications such as anti-coagulants.
Elderly frail thin or fragile skin can be very sensitive, especially where there is limited subcutaneous fat like in bony areas. Any slight trauma to the skin, like friction or even knocking into something can easily lead to painful hard to healskin tears. The thin skin of a person of advanced years can be very slow to heal and re-generate new skin
For these reasons alone it is important that the skin is treated with the utmost care. With regard to personal hygiene for example very hot water may well dry out further already dry skin, so luke warm water only would be better, and should applied gently. After washing the drying process can cause horrendous skin tears and the skin should be patted dry and not rubbed. A moisture absorbing soft towel should be used.
Frail thin skin is best supplied with moisture by drinking enough and using special creams as prescribed by a Healthcare professional.