Adult Incontinence: Skin Problems
Adult Incontinence can be caused from an overactive bladder, bladder leaks, as well as fecal incontinence due to illness, injury, or simply age. Adult undergarments, incontinence liners, or disposable underpads by companies like SCA Tena or Depends are adult incontinence products and supplies intended to make living with urinary and fecal incontinence easier. Incontinence concerns aren't just about leaks or being able to control your bladder. Adult incontinence can cause skin problems that need treatment and care. Exposure to fecal matter and urine can cause problems for the skin because these substances are caustic. When your skin is exposed to caustic materials and moisture it can cause maceration, dermatitis, bacterial infections, and fungal infections.
1. Fungal Infections
Adult incontinence can cause fungal infections because fungal infections thrive in warm, moist, dark areas. The ideal skin environment for the types of fungi associated with fungal infections is found when you have fecal and urinary incontinence. Fungal infections look like a skin rash, it can be bright red, itchy, and you will feel a burning sensation from the rash and surrounding skin. Rashes should not be ignored, they require treatment. Normally you would treat a fungal infection with an anti-fungal agent. Ask your doctor how they would recommend your fungal infection be treated. Fungal infections can also make skin maceration worse because macerated skin will break down faster than healthy skin.
Treatment: Antifungal Creams, Ointments, and Powders
Anti-fungal products work to inhibit the growth of the fungi associated with fungal infections. Some of them, like Coloplast Baza Antifungal moisture barrier cream also work to protect the skin from moisture and can help to treat perineal dermatitis. This is great news for anyone wearing adult diapers or dealing with adult incontinence.
Incontinence dermatitis is also called diaper rash and it can be an issue for anyone dealing with fecal and urinary incontinence regardless of age. It doesn't matter if you are an infant or elderly, perineal dermatitis is when the skin becomes irritated and broken down because of exposure to moisture and the caustic chemicals found in fecal matter and urine. Even simple bladder leaks or the loss of bladder control can cause incontinence dermatitis because the constant exposure to moisture can effect the over-all health of your skin.
Treatment: Skin Barrier Creams
The best treatment for dermatitis is clean dry skin. Skin barrier creams help protect at risk skin by forming a barrier between your skin and moisture or fecal matter. Moisture barrier or skin barrier creams are also called "diaper rash cream" and many times they are marketed to infants. This isn't a problem at all, you can use any kind of moisture barrier cream regardless if it is marketed toward infants or adults. The skin barrier cream should be applied to clean skin. When your adult diaper or pull up is changed, clean the skin thoroughly with a gentle skin friendly bathing wipe. After the skin is clean, apply a thin even layer of skin barrier cream to the effected area. Before applying any new product to your skin, make sure you do a skin test. A skin test is when you apply the new cream or ointment to a small section of skin to make sure you are not allergic to it. If you have broken or open skin, consult your doctor before applying any product to damaged skin.
3. Bacterial Infections
If you have open sores, pressure injuries, or even just skin cracks or fissures, you are at risk for bacterial infection from fecal incontinence. This is because bacteria from waste can come into contact with areas of open skin. Micro-organisms can be absorbed through even small skin injuries and if left unchecked bacteria will continue to reproduce. Broken or damaged skin can become a breeding ground for bacteria. This can happen to anyone dealing with fecal incontinence but it is especially important to watch out for when it comes to the elderly. Older skin is more fragile and needs to be gently tended.
Treatment: Clean and Dry Skin
When you are dealing with adult incontinence whether it is urinary or fecal, you will need to change your adult undergarments often. The sooner wet and soiled adult diapers are changed the better. Just changing the garments isn't always enough though. You will need to make sure your skin is clean and dry as well as properly protected and moisturized. It is unrealistic to think you will be able to shower each time your adult diaper is soiled. It can be challenging to transfer to a shower if you are dealing with mobility problems or sickness. No rinse cleansers are a great solution to adult incontinence skin care. These no-rinse solutions can be used to clean and deodorize sensitive perineal skin. These types of cleansers can be used on the body to keep you clean and fresh, even between showers. They wipe on and off so they leave skin clean.
4. Macerated Skin
When your skin is exposed to moisture over a long enough period of time your skin becomes waterlogged. This makes your skin extremely fragile. If you are older, your skin is naturally more fragile because as you age your skin has less collagen. When you combine older skin with maceration you get skin injuries. Waterlogged skin is easily damaged from even the mild friction associated with lightly rubbing against bed sheets or skin. Maceration increases the risks of bed sores, shear, and pressure injury.
Treatment: Changing Adult Incontinence Products Often
To avoid macerated skin, you need to keep your skin clean and dry. What are ways you can keep your skin dry if you are dealing with incontinence? You will need to change incontinence garments as soon as soiling takes place. By changing your adult brief or pull-up quickly you will automatically keep your skin dry and healthy since exposure to urine or fecal matter will be minimal. What happens if you are using incontinence garments overnight? Obviously sleeping through the night is very important and getting up to change your adult diaper at night is not conducive to sleeping well. One solution is to wear adult pull ups or briefs that have an absorbent core. The absorbent core pulls moisture into the middle of the diaper or brief which helps to keep your skin dry. Products like, Depends Fitted Maximum Protection Adult Briefs have super absorbent cores designed to keep your skin dry while also locking away odors.
If you are dealing with adult incontinence make sure you are having someone check your skin for rashes, redness, pressure sores, or any signs of damaged skin. Adult incontinence can be caused by any number of reasons so there is nothing to be ashamed of, if you need help, don't hesitate to ask your doctor or your nurse. Keeping your skin healthy is important so if you have a skin condition caused by adult incontinence, don't ignore it and hope it goes away. Ask your medical team for help.