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What is a degloving injury?

If you work in manufacturing or a similar industrial occupation, you may be at risk for a degloving injury. According to Healthline, degloving occurs when something rips the top layers of skin and tissue away from the bones, muscles or connective tissue underneath. Degloving is a type of avulsion injury, which literally means “torn away.”

A degloving injury can cause you to lose blood in large amounts and may result in tissue death. Therefore, it is a potentially life-threatening injury that requires immediate medical care.

What are the different types of degloving injuries?

You may experience two different types of degloving injuries: open and closed. In an open degloving injury, there may be a flap of skin still attached, but the torn skin exposes underlying tissues of muscle and bone. This exposure leaves you vulnerable to developing an infection.

A closed degloving injury occurs when the top layer of skin remains intact, but the bottom layers tear away from the deeper tissues. Because there is no open wound, this type of degloving injury is more difficult to recognize and diagnose. The only outward sign you can perceive may be a bruise in the area of injury as the open space formed by the avulsion fills up with blood.

What parts of the body do degloving injuries affect?

You could experience a degloving injury of any part of your body. However, the different types occur more often in some areas than others. A closed degloving injury is more likely to occur on your shoulder blades, lower spine and buttocks, while open degloving injuries are more common on the legs, face and scalp.

A degloving injury may call for complex skin repair. The treatment you receive may depend on whether this is available in your local emergency center.