If you have incontinence, you may know that overlooking proper skin care can lead to discomfort and pain, not to mention more severe conditions, like infections and sores.
Whether you're managing incontinence yourself or caring for a loved one with leakage, this article will teach you how to maintain healthy skin and avoid these common skin issues.
How Does Incontinence Affect Your Skin?
Urine and bowel leaks can cause skin breakdown. This occurs when ammonia in your urine and fecal waste sit on your skin for extended periods. The acidity of your bodily waste can disrupt the moisture barrier your skin typically has, leading to issues like:
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Incontinence Skin Care Tips
Manage Your Incontinence Properly
The first thing you'll want to do to protect your skin from harm is manage your incontinence (if possible). This should be a top priority since bladder and bowel leaks are the offending agents. Get to the root cause of your leakage rather than using bandaids to protect your skin. Speak with your healthcare provider about minimizing your urinary or bowel incontinence. Once you're on your way to managing and stopping leaks, try the following tips.
Cleanse Your Skin Often
Cleansing your skin is one of the most critical steps in skincare. When choosing skin cleansers, look for fragrance-free products since fragrances can further irritate your skin.
Clean your skin often (and as soon as you have an accident) with mild soap and water. Don't scrub your skin! Instead, gently wash it with a clean washcloth to prevent skin damage. Allow the area to air dry before putting another incontinence product or clothing on. You can also use a hair dryer to dry the wet area.
Dry Your Skin Completely
Allow your skin to dry completely before using another incontinence product or clothing. Air dry or use a hair dryer on the cool setting to help speed up the process. Avoiding products with seams to avoid excessive rubbing on the skin.
Apply Ointment When Needed
After washing your skin, apply skin care products like skin barrier cream or skin protectant, such as Aquaphor ointment or zinc oxide. This will help keep your skin moisturized and protected. If a powder is something you want to use, try cornstarch. Avoid baby powder and other fragranced skincare items.
Wear the Right Incontinence Products
Wearing the correct product for your body type and level of leakage is vital to incontinence skin care. A product that's too small might cause chafing, and one that's too large may cause leaks, so be sure to choose the right size for your body.
Selecting the correct absorbency level is also important. For example, a bladder control pad may suit those with lighter urinary incontinence, while a more absorbent adult diaper may be best for someone with fecal incontinence.
Also, don't be fooled by the marketing ploy of incontinence products with cover-up sprays or special ingredients! These can irritate your skin.
Only Use Incontinence Products Once
Never reuse a product after it's already been saturated. This can lead to skin irritation and skin breakdown due to moisture buildup since the product may be unable to soak up any further leaks.
Change Incontinence Products Often
Change your product as often as needed or as often as soiled. A good rule of thumb is to change your product every 2 - 3 hours.
Avoid Spicy Foods
Avoid spicy foods and citrus. These foods have been shown to cause more irritation to the skin.
Visit Your Healthcare Provider
Contact your healthcare professional as soon as possible when skin irritation occurs. The longer you delay, the worse your skin condition can get!
Have Conversations Early & Often
While conversations about incontinence skin care can feel embarrassing, we must have them! If you're a caregiver, know that it may be difficult for the person with incontinence to ask for help, so start by telling them that you want to make sure their skin stays healthy and offer your assistance. Continue to support your loved one by:
- Having ongoing, mutual conversations about what you observe.
- Scheduling frequent bathroom breaks while caring for them.
- Encouraging them to change their incontinence product often.
- Increasing your loved one's water intake.
- Going with them to their healthcare provider appointments.
- Keeping boundaries and autonomy with your loved one. This will empower them to continue to make decisions regarding their health.
Free Incontinence Products for Skin Health
Aeroflow Urology knows that the first step in protecting your skin is having access to the best incontinence supplies. We provide a wide selection of medical-grade products that measure up to the most well-known brands. Our products range from bladder control pads to underpads to adult briefs that are all made to protect even the most sensitive skin.
With Aeroflow Urology's services, you or your loved one may be eligible to receive incontinence products for free through a Medicaid or Medicaid-managed care plan. If you'd like to know if you or your loved one qualifies, fill out our secure Eligibility Form. You'll find out if you qualify within 2 - 3 business days. If you are eligible, you'll be able to select products that are 100% free from a personalized list, and we'll then ship your supplies to your doorstep every month. You'll also receive text messages or emails when it's time to refill your supplies so you always have incontinence products.
Information provided on the Aeroflow Urology blog is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or care. Aeroflow recommends consulting your healthcare provider if you are experiencing medical issues relating to incontinence.