Fragile or thin skin that tears easily is a fairly common problem, especially in older adults. Aging, sun exposure and genetics all play a role in thinning skin. Certain medications, such as long-term use of oral or topical corticosteroids, can also weaken skin and the blood vessels in the skin.
Thin skin isn't necessarily a sign of a serious underlying medical condition but should be evaluated by a doctor to determine its cause.
To protect thin skin and prevent tears and cuts:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats.
- Avoid prolonged sun exposure.
- If you must be outside in the sun, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or perspiring.
- Keep skin well moisturized and protected by using a quality moisturizing cream, such as Vanicream, Cetaphil or Eucerin.
- Talk to your doctor about treating skin with vitamin A (retinol) which may improve the skin's ability to tolerate injuries.