Adult Incontinence and Skin Care: Tips to Treat and Prevent Skin Breakdown
If you’re a caregiver or you’re dealing with incontinence, then you know having healthy skin is just as important as preventing leaks. If not managed properly, fecal and urinary incontinence can wreak havoc on your skin. Below, we’ll explain everything you need to know about how incontinence affects your skin, what skin breakdown is, how to avoid it, and more.
How Does Incontinence Affect Your Skin?
Frequent urine and feces leakage often leads to skin problems in sensitive areas like the buttocks, hips, genitals, and perineum. Incontinence Associated Dermatitis (IAD) is a skin condition caused by prolonged exposure to moisture and urine in the case of fecal incontinence, or to urine in the case of urinary incontinence. This can lead to skin damage such as inflammation, breakdown of the skin barrier, and infection. It is commonly seen in the elderly, adults with disabilities, and those bedridden or wheelchair confined. This can lead to various forms of skin breakdown:
- Perineal dermatitis (diaper rash)
- Yeast infections
- Pressure ulcers (bedsores)
What is Skin Breakdown?
Skin breakdown is the weakening and damage of your three layers of skin. While it can happen in any area of your body, an incontinence-related skin breakdown is most common in the genitals, hips, and buttocks regions. Depending on the severity of the breakdown, you may experience blisters, rashes, abrasions, pressure sores, and more.
What are the Stages of Skin Breakdown?
The effects of skin breakdown are categorized into four stages with each growing more severe. Understanding these stages can make all the difference when working to avoid or treat skin problems (especially when considering skin care for older adults).
Here's a look at the four stages of skin breakdown, helping you recognize what to watch for:
- Stage 1: The affected area might appear red and feel warm to the touch. In darker skin tones, it could have a blue or purple hue. You might also experience sensations like burning, itching, or pain, adding to your discomfort.
- Stage 2: As skin breakdown progresses, the area may appear more damaged, possibly presenting an open sore, scrape, or blister. You may report significant pain, and the skin surrounding the wound could be discolored.
- Stage 3: There may be crater-like skin damage — signaling that the damage has extended below the skin's surface.
- Stage 4: The area is severely damaged, with a large wound visible. Depending on the circumstances — muscles, tendons, bones, and joints could be involved, which could result in infections. Seeking immediate medical care is crucial at this point.
How to Prevent and Treat Incontinence-Related Skin Breakdown
Incontinence-related skin breakdown can cause just as much discomfort (if not more) as the incontinence itself. However, with the appropriate routines, hygiene, and products, you can stop skin breakdown before it ever starts.
Prevention Starts with Using Premium Incontinence Products
High-quality products make all the difference when it comes to preventing skin breakdown. When compared to the premium adult diapers at Parentgiving, the mass-produced options you find at most stores offer lower quality materials and fewer features.
These are the features you should be looking for in a quality diaper:
- A high-performance top sheet that wicks moisture away from your skin to keep you dry.
- Soft, hypoallergenic fabric that reduces irritation. Many generic diapers feature scratchier materials that can harm your skin if left unchanged for long periods of time.
- A high absorbency core that holds a large volume of liquid, keeping it locked away and off your skin.
- Leak guards, leg cuffs, and a chassis cut for a tailored fit that leaves no gaps around the waist or legs. Having a snug fit results in fewer leaks that can irritate your skin.
Dry Direct diapers are a great example of a premium product that can help to prevent skin breakdown. The Dry Direct brand offers diapers that are noticeably softer, better fitting, and more absorbent than what you can find in a brick-and-mortar store.
Other Skin Breakdown Prevention Tips
Taking preventative measures is critically important when managing your skin. With that said, a few general tips to help you prevent significant skin breakdown include:
- Use gentle cleansers, body washes, and moisturizing lotions to keep the skin clean and hydrated.
- Choose premium incontinence products over generic options. A high-quality product will lead to less irritation, less leakage, and more overall comfort.
- Make personal hygiene a part of your daily routine by keeping skin areas dry and clean.
- Protect skin pressure points by using pillows or cushions when sitting or lying down for longer periods of time.
Skin Breakdown Treatment
Home Treatment for Skin Breakdown
- Yeast/Jock Itch: Yeast and Jock Itch can be treated with highly recommended antifungal treatments available over the counter, such as clotrimazole and miconazole. Parentgiving provides best selling products such as Baza Antifungal Barrier Cream to help with this issue.
- Skin Dermatitis: Skin Dermatitis can be treated with a regime of cleaning products and Remedy Phytoplex Nourishing Skin Cream by Medline as a finishing cream to protect the skin. The use of a cool compress or bath may be beneficial in helping to relieve itching and inflammation.
In many cases, a healthcare provider can recommend specific skin protection tips, products, wound care techniques, or medication to address the issue.
4 General Incontinence Skin Care Best Practices
Everyone has different needs when it comes to skin care. These are some simple things you can do right away:
- Choose skin care products (i.e., incontinence wipes, towels, gels, etc.) specifically designed for incontinence.
- Upgrade to a premium adult diaper that absorbs more liquid, keeps your skin dry, and prevents leaks around your legs and waist.
- When faced with initial phases of skin deterioration or patients prone to such deterioration, opt for barrier creams, skin protectants, or revitalizing creams.
- Look out for signs of skin breakdown and consult a healthcare professional if needed.
Types of Incontinence Skin Care Products to Use
It can be a challenge to find the best incontinence skin care products that fit your specific needs. In case you need a bit of help, you can find some of our most recommended skin care treatments below to help you cope with incontinence:
- Baza Antifungal Barrier Cream: The BAZA Antifungal Cream is created to ease discomfort and alleviate the pain linked to surface-level fungal infections, often triggered by incontinence. It incorporates a 2% concentration of Miconazole Nitrate within a zinc oxide-based cream that forms a protective barrier. This product is effective against various infections caused by yeast (Candidiasis), jock itch, ringworm, and athlete's foot.
- TriDERMA Intense Fast Healing Cream: Formulated with a specialized blend, this skin cream provides relief, protection, and accelerates the healing process for challenging skin problems. It's recommended for addressing symptoms associated with skin irritations, pressure sores, diabetic ulcers, burns (including radiation burns), eczema, psoriasis, and various skin conditions ranging from mild to severe. Enriched with potent ingredients including AP4 Genuine Virgin Aloe, vitamins A, B, D, and E, oat protein, zinc pca, collagen, and advanced moisturizing agents, it's devoid of fragrance and cortisone, and doesn't leave a greasy residue.
- Calmoseptine Ointment: The Calmoseptine Ointment offers protection and healing for skin irritations arising from incontinence, minor burns, scrapes, diaper rash, or wound drainage. It temporarily alleviates discomfort and itching while creating a versatile moisture barrier. Its composition includes calamine, zinc oxide, menthol, and lanolin. Acting as a protective shield, it draws moisture away from the skin, aiding the healing process.
- Medline's Remedy Phytoplex Nourishing Skin Cream: Medline's Remedy Phytoplex Nourishing Skin Cream is designed to gently hydrate the skin and restore its innate moisture balance and protective properties. Crafted without mineral oil or similar petroleum-based ingredients, this cream maintains skin's breathability and is swiftly absorbed upon application, leaving no oily residue. Its moisturizing action is achieved through a combination of natural moisturizers like safflower oleosomes and carrageenan, while also offering skin comfort through oat kernel and licorice root extract. The inclusion of a natural, non-synthetic deodorizer lends a subtle touch to the finish. Suitable for hands, face, and body application, this cream is enriched with Phytoplex, supplementary botanical extracts, and essential fatty acids.
- Aloe Vesta Perineal Skin Cleanser: Designed for cleansing in cases of incontinence, the Aloe Vesta Perineal Skin Cleanser features a robust surfactant system for thorough cleaning and emollients to maintain skin moisture. This liquid cleanser carries a refreshing lemon scent that deodorizes as it cleanses. It soothes and moisturizes delicate skin with the inclusion of aloe vera, preventing skin from becoming dry. Dispensed as a liquid spray, it offers a more convenient cleansing solution compared to using soap and water from a basin.
How Parentgiving Can Help You
Maintaining skin health while managing urinary or fecal incontinence might seem like a tall order, but it's essential for your overall well-being. Now that you understand the basics of skin breakdown, you already have a head start on the way to preventing and treating it. To keep your skin healthy and safe, find the right adult diaper for you and shop our best skin care products today, including creams, cleansers, and much more.
Not sure which diaper to choose? Sample our products and test out up to five options at one time. Our sampling program is an easy, affordable way to find the right fit for you.