Skin Care is Preventative Medicine for Incontinence
If you suffer from urinary or fecal incontinence, you have dealt with skin issues.
Issues like dry skin, chafing, heat rash, yeast infections, skin breakdown and infections, and contact dermatitis all occur in the diaper area. The diaper area includes the genitals, the perineal area (skin between the genitals and the anus), the buttocks, and the leg folds at the joints.
This list of possible skin ailments is daunting and potentially serious. How can you prevent these incontinence-related skin problems? Or, if you already have them, how can you treat them? We will discuss preventative methods in this two-part series on skin care and incontinence.
Since preventative medicine is the best medicine, let’s start there.
You might not see skin care products as incontinence supplies, but if you wear a diaper or any other adult incontinence products, how do you prevent skin irritations in the diaper area?
The first step is regularly cleaning the skin. By using a skin cleanser designed for the perineal area, you are going to keep the skin clean from fungus and bacteria. These cleansers are available for use in the shower, like soap, or you can spray them on the body or apply them with either a washable or disposable washcloth. Perineal cleansers are different from soap, because they do not dry skin out like soap can. The best protection skin has against breakdown is its own oils. Perineal cleansers clean without stripping the skin of its protective coating.
After cleaning, apply a moisturizer containing vitamins and antioxidants. These add moisture back to the skin cells plumping them up and making them less prone to tiny cracks. These microscopic cracks are what allow irritation and infection to set in. Some people prefer to keep the moisturizers more natural. Olive oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera, and coconut oil all are great skin moisturizers if applied to the skin directly. Make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients beforehand by reading the product label.
If your skin is healthy, apply a barrier cream or ointment next. A barrier cream will contain a water repellent like petroleum or dimethicone and a smoothing agent like silicone. This will make the ointment spread smoothly without taking off the skin layers or any other applied ointments. A barrier cream is a protective layer against urine or feces or the chafing rub of a diaper. It does not necessarily heal damaged skin in itself. It prevents damage from occurring or from getting worse.
Adult incontinence wipes and washcloths are available for daily cleaning, freshening up, or for changes. These adult wipes work in the exact same way as a baby wipe, except that they are significantly larger. They come pre-moistened and ready to use in travel-ready packages. Dry washcloths are good to use if you prefer making your own cleanser, or if you prefer not to use the cleanser in pre-moistened wipes. If there is diaper rash and it is severe, some people prefer to simply use water to clean off any feces or skin debris. The dry ones come in the same type of packages as the wet ones, or you can store them in your own larger resealable storage containers.
If you already have skin breakdown issues, we will discuss solutions for you in our next blog post. Be sure to subscribe to our email list so you will never miss a post!
SuLauren Wilson is the founder of Finnegan Medical Supply, an online medical supply store based in Little Rock, Ark. She blogs regularly on issues affecting the company’s patients. Although, she has many years of experience in the healthcare industry, she is not a licensed medical professional, and the content of her posts should not be considered medical advice.