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Minor Skin Breakdown

What is a minor skin breakdown?

Skin breakdown can range from minor scrapes, cuts, tears, blisters or burns. Minor skin breakdown is tissue damage caused by friction, shear, moisture or pressure and is limited to the top layer of skin.

What causes minor skin breakdown?

In the hospital setting, there are several ways that skin breakdown can occur. 

  • Cleaning the skin before applying a medical device such as EEG leads
  • Pressure from a medical device for example from an IV or a feeding tube

What are the signs of minor skin breakdown?

  • Unopened skin that has redness, bruising or blisters
  • Open skin that is red in color

How should I care for my child’s minor skin breakdown?

  • Wash your hands well with soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • Wash the skin with mild soap and warm water
  • Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the open skin and cover with a bandage

When should I call the clinic?

Call the clinic if:

  • Temperature higher than 101 F
  • The area near the minor skin breakdown becomes bright red, swollen or painful
  • There is odor coming from the open skin
  • The drainage from the open skin becomes yellow or green in color

What else do I need to know?

  • If the skin is not open, we may recommend covering with a bandage for protection
  • Minor skin breakdown heals best when kept moist using petroleum jelly. Antibiotic ointments slow healing and are often not needed. Do not “air out” minor skin breakdown. Allowing air to the open skin will increase the time to healing.

This information is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call Children’s Wound Care Team at 651-220-6530.

Reviewed 3/2019

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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