6 Tips For Treating Wounds In The Elderly

Updated on April 17, 2021

As people age, the epidermis, or the outer skin layer, thins out, having lesser melanocytes or pigment-containing cells. Aging skin looks clear, paler, and marks and lines are more visible. Seniors are more vulnerable to skin problems because of less collagen production, elasticity, and other structural changes. So, proper wound care should be implemented in healthcare facilities and even at home. 

In this article, you’ll get to learn the best tips for treating wounds among older people.  

Proper Assessment 

Caregivers should regularly inspect the senior citizen’s skin condition, especially for high-risk residents such as immobile, frail, bedridden, or incontinent patients. Observe the skin during bathing, wound care, diaper changing, and position turning. 

In their explanation, injury experts say that one of the signs of nursing home neglect to watch out for is bedsores. So, it’s vital to learn how to treat wounds in the elderly to avoid compromising skin health and overall health.

Treat Acute Wounds Immediately 

Acute wounds refer to skin injuries that result in air exposure of injured tissues. The skin becomes ruptured, irritated, and disrupted, leading to bleeding, swelling, and pain. This type of wound can be excruciating and air exposure may lead to wound infection. For this reason, prompt treatment must be given to the elderly with an acute wound. 

Here’s how to treat an acute wound to promote faster healing include: 

  • Control the bleeding by applying pressure. If the bleeding won’t stop, call the emergency hotline immediately. 
  • Remove any glass, dirt, or debris if possible. 
  • Clean the wounded skin area using soap or saline solution. 
  • Dress the wound to avoid air exposure until the elderly receive medical attention. 
  • Advise senior patients to take the necessary antibiotics as prescribed by the doctor. 

Seek Professional Help To Treat Chronic Wound 

Chronic wound develops when an acute wound doesn’t heal, causing prolonged treatment and healing. When an acute wound is not treated properly, the skin and underlying tissue will be deprived of oxygen, nutrients, and blood.  

Patients with diabetic ulcers, infection, or who had undergone surgery are prone to chronic wounds. If a chronic wound isn’t effectively managed, infection worsens, resulting in gangrene, necrosis, or tissue death. That’s why professional medical attention is required to treat the option.  

treating a wound
Wound dressing, Doctor cleaning and wash infected wound in chronic diabetes senior patient with normal saline and povidone iodine, Accidental wound care treatment in elderly old man.

Follow Routines 

In older people, not all acute or chronic wounds are caused by skin injury. Immobility, limited skin regenerative ability, and underlying medical conditions can cause skin disruption. Seniors need regular skin checkups to prevent a minor skin issue from getting worse. 

Treat and minimize the likelihood of skin conditions, like bedsores among the elderly, by following these routines: 

  • To reduce skin pressure, reposition the elderly throughout the day in their wheelchair or bed. Change angles every 15 minutes if possible. 
  • Prop the elderly up with cushions filled with foam, gel, air, or water. Doing so will provide more support than standard pillows. Recommend changing mattress as needed.
  • Elevate the patient’s head above the rest of the body to prevent shearing. 
  • To prevent rashes, clean the skin with water and mild soap or a no-rinse cleanser. 
  • Use talcum powder to add a layer of skin insulation, keeping it moist but not wet. 
  • Use incontinence products, such as absorbent pads and underwear, to protect the skin from bacteria and moisture. 

Avoid Wound Infection  

You can gently rub antibiotic ointment, such as Neosporin, over the cut. While these topicals won’t help heal the wound faster, they’ll prevent wound infection since they’ll leave moist. However, make sure to consult a doctor since some older people are sensitive to skin ointments. 

Daily bathing is highly recommended to avoid wound infection. Promptly change wet and dirty wound dressing, clothing, bedding, and napkin. Also, to maintain healthy skin, make sure that the senior is getting enough nutrients. 

Here are the warning signs of wound infection: 

  • Local Signs: Warmth, swelling, redness, pain, and cloud secretion. 
  • General Signs: Fever, chills, rapid breathing, rapid pulse, nausea, headache, body weakness, and anorexia. Seek immediate medical attention if you observe delayed wound healing or infection. 

Minimize Further Skin Damage 

Seniors need proper skin care to minimize skin damage. Avoid undue friction and pressure on the wound to avoid further skin damage. Make use of hypoallergenic dressings as needed. 


Older people have thinner skin, which makes them more prone to skin problems such as acute and chronic wounds. Wound treatment should include prompt intervention for acute wounds and professional intervention for signs of chronic wounds, such as infection, intense pain, and gangrene. Also, follow skincare routines to avoid aggravating bed sores and other skin health problems.

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