Skin care for people with incontinence

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Elders with incontinence issues deserve care that will keep them comfortable, healthy
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When an adult becomes incontinent, special skin care is needed

You might not immediately make the connection between being incontinent and having skin care concerns. That is because most of us think skin concerns apply to our face, forgetting that we are covered in skin, all of which is susceptible to problems.

Skin care with incontinence is a serious cosmetic, hygiene and medical concern. There is skin on our hips, genitals, butt and rectum and between the pelvis, which can become seriously distressed when it is exposed to excessive moisture -- which occurs when someone is incontinent. Incontinence means that a person cannot control urination or defecation. The first step in caring for skin exposed to moisture is to use high quality incontinence supplies to draw fluids away from the skin as much as possible. The next is to treat the skin directly.

Unfortunately, skin care for people with incontinence could be your problem someday, and it could be the problem of an elderly parent or loved one that you are caring for. Unappealing, perhaps, but a fact of life and, if not handled properly, you or charge will experience a lot of misery.

When incontinence occurs, the person is at risk of developing skin problems, including bacterial infections, which thrive in wet, dark locations. The skin in these areas can become sore, irritated, red and will peel. Yeast infections frequently occur, and many women know how miserable those can be.

When perineal skin breaks down, this can result in problems that range from crusting and scaling skin, oozing, erythema, (which is reddening of the skin that occurs because of the widening of the small blood vessels that are situated near the surface of the skin, causing inflammation and even fever), and vesiculation, (which is blistering).

If not treated, this can lead to ulceration and a bacterial infection, such as staph. When this happens, your patient is going to be very uncomfortable and his quality of life is going to be compromised even further.

Some invalids and elderly people wear adult diapers, which are helpful, but sometimes a diaper can make a situation worse if the person is allowed to sit in urine or stool for too long This can cause the skin to break down. If you or your patient is wearing an adult diaper, make sure that it changed often and the skin is kept dry and clean.

The best preventive measure is to clean yourself or your charge immediately after peeing or having a bowel movement. Use a mild, diluted soap and water to clean the area, rinse thoroughly and then pat dry. Use skin cleaning agents that are specifically designed for sensitive skin and which will not further irritate the area. Disposable towelettes or baby wipes are great for this purpose as are certain non-aerosol sprays and foams,.

Some of these products do not require rinsing off after applications. Read the instructions carefully. Put some moisturizer on the area that has been exposed to urine and feces. Baby lotions are ideal because they are gentle enough for a baby. Do not use anything that has fragrance in it.

Do not use any products that contain alcohol because it dries out the skin and will irritate the heck out of sore skin. If you are undergoing radiation, ask your doctor if it is okay to use lotions and creams on your skin

When a yeast infection develops, a pimple-like rash that is red and itchy may appear on the skin. The skin will feel raw, which is an unpleasant sensation, particularly if you are sitting or lying on that part of your body. Yeast infections can be treated with prescription- or over- the-counter products. There is anti-fungal medication available that will halt the infection, such as nystatin powder. A skin sealant or moisture barrier can be applied on top of the powder.

These creams may contain zinc oxide, petrolatum or lanolin, which creates a barrier between your skin and moisture, such as urine. Additionally, there are sprays that will leave a protective film over the skin.

If you are providing elder care, skin care for people with incontinence is probably one of the issues that you are going to face. Helping the individual maintain his dignity as well as his comfort and help is part of your job.


Help for incontinence sufferers

NIH: Incontinence and skin care


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