Skin tears, defined as traumatic wounds caused by mechanical forces, can be debilitating for individuals, causing pain and reduced mobility. Although skin tears can develop throughout the lifespan, older age can make the skin increasingly susceptible to this type of injury. Studies have found wide variation in the incidence and prevalence of skin tears, in part because of suboptimal recognition and reporting practices among healthcare professionals. Effective prevention of skin tears requires a standardised approach to risk assessment, prevention, recognition and classification, such as that offered by the International Skin Tear Advisory Panel (ISTAP) best practice recommendations. This article examines the literature on the incidence, prevalence, prevention and recognition of skin tears, and outlines some of the ISTAP best practice recommendations on risk assessment, prevention and recognition. The authors also consider the need for patient and healthcare professional education to optimise the prevention of skin tears.