People who have problems controlling their urine or bowels (called incontinence) are at greater risk for skin problems around the buttocks, hips, genitals, and the area between the pelvis and rectum (perineum).
Excess moisture in these areas makes skin problems such as redness, peeling, irritation, and yeast infections more likely.
Bedsores (pressure sores) may also develop if you:
TAKING CARE OF YOUR SKIN
Using diapers and other products may actually make skin problems worse. Although they may keep bedding and clothing cleaner, these products tend to keep the urine or stool in constant contact with the skin. Over time, the skin can break down. Special care must be taken to keep the skin clean and dry.
Look for soap-free skin cleansers that do not cause dryness or irritation. Be sure to follow the product's instructions. Some of the products do not require rinsing. Some people may have allergies to the fragrances used in these cleansers, which can cause skin irritation.
Moisturizing creams can help keep the skin moist. Avoid products that contain alcohol, which may irritate the skin. If you are receiving radiation therapy, ask your health care provider if it is okay to use any creams or lotions.
Consider using a skin sealant or moisture barrier. Creams or ointments that contain zinc oxide, lanolin, or petrolatum form a protective barrier on the skin. Some skin care products (often in the form of a spray or a towelette) can create a clear, protective film over the skin. A doctor or nurse can recommend barrier creams to help protect the skin.
Even if you use these products, you must still clean the skin after each episode of incontinence. Reapply the cream or ointment after cleaning and drying the skin.
People who often have incontinence problems may develop a yeast infection on the skin. An itchy, red, pimple-like rash appears. The skin may feel raw. There are several products (both over-the-counter and prescription) that can be used to treat a yeast infection.
The National Association For Continence (NAFC) publishes a resource guide of continence products and services, which includes a listing of the manufacturers and distributors of specific products. To get a copy of this resource guide, call 1-800-BLADDER or go to the website www.nafc.org.
IF YOU ARE BEDRIDDEN OR USING A WHEELCHAIR
You or your caregiver should check the skin for pressure sores every day. Look for reddened areas that, when pressed, do not turn white. Also look for blisters, sores, or craters. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have any foul-smelling drainage.
Eat healthy, well-balanced meals that contain enough calories and protein to keep you healthy.
If you must stay in bed, you should:
If you are in a wheelchair:
Nviriesy P. Vulvovaginal candidiasis and bacterial vaginosis. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2008;22:637-652.
Bluestein D, Javaheri A. Pressure ulcers: prevention, evaluation, and management. Am Fam Physician. 2008;78:1186-1194.
Updated by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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