One of the many challenges posed by incontinence is the danger it presents to the health of your skin. Frequent or prolonged exposure to urine or fecal matter can result in inflammation and erosion of the skin, and, in more serious cases, bacterial or fungal infections. If an incontinent person is bedridden, such exposure can worsen the effects of pressure sores.
But those problems can be prevented or overcome with good hygiene practices, careful selection of skin care products, and use of incontinence protection garments that employ the latest advances in moisture-control technology. Here’s how to protect your skin from the potentially harmful effects of incontinence.
Good hygiene is paramount. Incontinence obviously requires extra-careful attention to cleanliness, but it’s important to clean the proper way. Clean soiled parts of the body as promptly as possible, but be sure to use a mild, non-abrasive soap that won’t contribute to irritation. When drying affected areas, be careful not to rub. Instead, pat dry or, when possible, allow the skin to air dry. Do not wash more often than is necessary, especially in cases of urinary incontinence. As the Mayo Clinic advises: “Avoid frequent washing and douching because these can overwhelm your body’s natural defenses against bladder infections.”
The right skin care products can help. The National Institutes of Health’s MedlinePlus information service suggests using skin sealants or moisture barriers to protect skin against damaging effects of urine or fecal discharge. It recommends “creams or ointments that contain zinc oxide, lanolin, or petrolatum which form a protective barrier on the skin.” Other effective barriers may be applied as or with a hand wipe or sponge. Moisturizing creams also can be useful, but avoid products that contain alcohol, which might be an irritant, says the NIH. Talk to your doctor for advice on the product that may work best for you.
Nutrition is important too. Eating foods that promote good skin health gives a strong assist when combatting the effects of incontinence. Vitamins A, C and E play important roles in skin health, as do anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Avocados, walnuts, sweet potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, green tea and fatty fish, such as salmon and herring, are examples of foods containing those nutrients. Dark chocolate also is considered good for the skin, but be aware that the caffeine it contains may stimulate the bladder. A more thorough list can be found here.
State-of-the-art moisture control minimizes skin contact. We’ve come a long way from the days when incontinence protection products helped keep clothing dry, but did relatively little for skin health and comfort. The improvements have been dramatic. Salk Inc.’s superior fabric engineering and technology provide unsurpassed moisture and odor control in reusable men’s briefs and women’s panties. These highly absorbent, washable, long-lasting money-saving undergarments guide moisture away from the skin and promote rapid evaporation, helping the wearer remain free of irritation and infection.
The impact of incontinence already is more than enough of an imposition on your time and energy. Don’t allow additional problems to complicate the burden. Take the necessary steps to effectively manage or prevent incontinence from damaging your skin.