How to prevent incontinence-related skin damage 

Besides being inconvenient and potentially embarrassing for patients, incontinence can also cause skin problems. This is because urine alters the skin’s normal flora and pH, weakening it and making it more vulnerable to friction, erosion and damage.

Common symptoms of incontinence-related skin damage

The most common forms of skin damage caused by incontinence include Incontinence Associated Dermatitis (IAD), bacterial infections, yeast and other fungal infections, as well as general skin soreness. Symptoms of incontinence-related skin damage can vary, but typically include redness, irritation, inflammation, dryness and itchiness.

Incontinence-related skin problems can be distressing, uncomfortable and even socially isolating. For patients with incontinence, it’s important to maintain skin integrity, as prevention is the best cure for incontinence-related skin issues.

As a leading provider of healthcare and hygiene products, Hartmann suggests the following ways you can keep your patients skin healthy:

Preventing incontinence-related skin damage

To keep skin healthy, it’s important to keep it clean and dry. Wash skin with water and a soap-free cleanser or pH-balanced wash, then pat dry. Regular soaps can be very drying and make your skin less resistant to contact with urine. Although moisturising with a pH-balanced moisturiser is recommended to replace lost skin oils, avoid those that contain alcohol, as these can be drying and may cause rashes.

Moistened cleansing wipes can be used when patients are out of the home to make cleaning the skin simple and convenient. It's also worth recommending the use of skin-cleansing products designed specifically for people who have urinary incontinence.

Barrier creams can help protect skin that comes into regular contact with urine, however these need to be used sparingly, as they can create a moist environment more conducive to infection, and can also interfere with the absorbency of incontinence pads. In this instance, you can recommend patients use a zinc and petroleum free skin care product to prevent interfering with pad absorbency.

Remember to advise patients to change their incontinence pads regularly and to choose skin friendly continence pads that maintain the pH of the skin. 


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