Remember worrying over red, raw skin that nappy rash caused on your little ones? Many think there’s nothing more sensitive than a baby’s soft skin and we were careful to properly care for it to ensure it didn’t blister or become too dry. It turns out your parents’ skin is just as sensitive.
The same painful skin problem can occur at the other end of life, particularly when incontinence becomes an issue for our own parents or people we care for. While we don’t call it nappy rash, the risks are similar, if not worse, than those we see in babies. For the older population – or anyone – with incontinence, skin becomes more vulnerable to damage caused by urine and faeces. This can result in redness, irritation and soreness, which in turn can cause discomfort and social isolation.
While it may be an embarrassing or difficult conversation to have as a carer, the truth is incontinence-related skin conditions impact more people than you’d think. Proper care is the most sensible method of preventing further health conditions or infections.
When caring for someone with a continence problem, it’s important to pay attention to the skin around the anus, the genitals and the inner thighs, as these are the areas most impacted by skin conditions. Changing a pad is just one part of the process and damp, warm skin can provide the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive in. This is known to cause fungal infections or even urinary tract infections, while bladder leakage or soilage can also lead to itching, flaking of the skin, dryness, blisters, swelling, pain, redness and overall inflammation of the skin’s surface.
In some cases, a variety of other factors such as being older, taking medication for other illness or even a lack of mobility can make the condition even worse.
“Undamaged skin helps protect the body against bacteria and is part of the general immune system keeping you healthy,” wound nurse consultant Jan Rice says. “If skin is damaged in any way, then bacteria and organisms may enter and cause you to feel unwell.”
The urea and ammonia in urine can affect the pH balance of the skin, causing it to become too alkaline. The water in the urine softens the skin so the skin is easily burnt, while diarrhoea is equally as damaging because the enzymes haven’t been absorbed and can also burn the skin.
Thankfully, proper treatment and skin care can relieve these symptoms and see our loved one living more happily and confident with incontinence.
J’ADERMA Skin Care is one of many brands on the market designed to ease stress and improve comfort. This range is specifically formulated for incontinence care, is dermatologically tested, and includes products for cleansing, soothing and protecting, which can help to minimise infection and irritation.
“Good care involves cleansing with a pH-balanced cleanser, preferably not soap, but rather a soap-alternative,” Rice says. “Liquid soap cleansers are less damaging to the skin than a bar of soap and the pH of the skin means it is compatible with the acid mantle of the skin, which is part of the protective barrier.”
J’ADERMA’s No-Rinse Foaming Cleanser is one such cleanser. After using it, the impacted area should be dried by gently patting the skin. A moisturiser can then be applied.
“Moisturisers should be applied twice daily and the skin should feel hydrated, soft and supple at all times,” Rice suggests.
The Rapid Relief Soothing Cream is a good option because it is free of parabens which can cause
irritation. Lastly, a good quality cream such as Barrier Cream with Paw Paw should be used to provide a barrier against further irritation, however, only a thin layer is needed.
The way you care for a loved one with incontinence can also prevent further irritation. Skin should always be kept dry and clean, while impacted areas should be cleaned properly whenever there is an accident. Solutions with alcohol and disinfectant can dry skin out or cause rashes, so it’s advised not to use these products. Also use warm water and avoid increasing the water temperature in the cooler months.
When choosing a moisturiser, stay away from those with perfume or fragrance as this can impact sensitive skin, while talcum powder should be avoided to prevent irritation.
“If the skin is very dry, using a cream or ointment is preferable to a liquid,” Rice adds. “Many companies have removed agents known to cause allergies and irritations known to the skin, so a thorough reading of the label is recommended to ensure what is put on the skin doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulphate, parabens or balsam of Peru.”
Request for J’ADERMA samples here.
Are you caring for someone with incontinence issues? How do you prevent skin irritations and infections?