Living with incontinence is a challenge for over 33 million Americans. Luckily, the ways to manage and treat urinary or fecal incontinence have grown along with the advances in modern medicine. Having a proper skin care routine is an important part of living with incontinence.
Prolonged exposure to urine on the skin can lead to irritation, chafing, itching, burning, or even serious issues such as dermatitis or skin sores. Knowing how to properly care for your skin will help you avoid irritation and live comfortably. This article examines the importance of caring for your skin and how to incorporate a skin care routine into your life.
Because I Want To Protect My Skin
One of the challenges of living with incontinence is taking care of your skin. This is important as the structure, pH, and moisture barrier of the skin is very delicate. It’s essential to understand how the skin is designed in order to understand how to best care for it.
Your Skin’s Structure
Your skin has three layers that serve to protect the body by separating the external world from the internal body. The layers of skin are the epidermis, which is the outermost layer, the dermis, which is a strong layer that contains collagen, blood vessels, and glands, and the hypodermis, the innermost layer.
The skin acts as a moisture barrier. This structure is an essential part of health as it protects our bodies from foreign bacteria, viruses, and harmful chemicals and toxins from seeping into the skin and damaging our bodies. There are two important components of the skin’s moisture barrier that help it protect our bodies.
The lipids that make up the skin are essential as they repel water and help seal our skin and prevent foreign bodies from entering. Keratinocytes are a type of skin cell made of the protein keratin. Keratin is an important strengthener for skin, hair, and nails and helps protect the skin as well.
Your Skin’s pH
The skin’s pH is the measurement of how acidic or basic the skin is. Our bodies have countless mechanisms to maintain balance and homeostasis when it comes to acidity, so our skin’s pH is fragile and ranges anywhere from 4.7 to 5.75 when healthy. For this reason, it’s important to use skin care products that are close to the skin’s pH.
Protecting Your Skin From Dermatitis
Dermatitis is a skin condition that results from prolonged moisture exposure to the skin. Dermatitis can result from sweat, water, or exposure to urine and feces from incontinence. This specific type of dermatitis is known as incontinence-associated dermatitis.
Incontinence-associated dermatitis is a skin condition that affects the perineum of the skin, or the diamond shaped area from the genitals to the anus. This skin condition can lead to inflammation, redness, itching, burning, pain, increased temperature, and even breakage of the skin and open wounds. In addition, if dermatitis is unaddressed it can lead to further infection.
Feces and the Skin
While protecting against urinary incontinence, it’s also important to recognize the dangers of fecal incontinence. This form of incontinence is the inability to control or hold in bowel movements and is characterized by the unintentional loss of stool.
Fecal incontinence poses a different risk to the skin. This is because stool contains digestive enzymes which can mix with urine if you have both urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence. When stool comes in contact with urine, the pH changes and the enzymes in stool can reactivate and begin breaking down the skin.
Because I Deserve To Feel Confident
The benefits of proper skin care extend to more than just our physical health. Protecting the skin promotes comfort and confidence as well.
Because of the structure of our skin and how it’s designed to protect our bodies, it’s extra important to care for the skin if you live with urinary or fecal incontinence. This helps increase comfort and soothe irritation while promoting healing and nourishment for damaged skin.
The more comfortable we feel in our day to day lives, the more confidence we have! We can spend less time worrying about whether our skin is damaged and spend more time enjoying the things we love to do.
Because I Care About My Urinary Health
Skin care for incontinence is also a great way to support urinary health because of how skin care protects against infection and can even protect against UTIs.
Incontinence and UTIs
Unfortunately, the risk of getting a UTI increases with incontinence as skin can be exposed to urine and bacteria for longer periods of time. UTIs, or urinary tract infections, are caused when bacteria travel up the urethra and infect the urinary system. A UTI can occur in any part of the urinary tract, and symptoms include the strong and frequent urge to urinate, burning, and can even lead to the unintentional loss of urine.
If you have incontinence or have frequent UTIs, taking a probiotic may also help due to the healthy bacteria in probiotics. A UTI is caused when unhealthy bacteria enters the urinary tract and begins to grow. A probiotic’s job is to balance the bacteria in the gut and in the microbiome to promote urinary health and promote the health of healthy bacteria that can fight off infection.
You may also consider taking a UTI health supplement to help support the urinary tract’s natural defenses to prevent UTIs. A probiotic or UTI supplement may help flush out the urinary tract and balance the vaginal microbiome for added protection against infections.
Proper Skin Care Techniques
Caring for the skin when you have incontinence is essential to promoting your skin’s health, reducing irritation and discomfort, and supporting urinary health as well. Luckily, there are many tools and resources to help you care for your skin properly and protect it from infection.
Having a cleanser is essential for keeping the perineal area clean. This helps protect from bacteria that could potentially cause the skin harm and lead to an infection. When considering a cleanser to use, there are a few things to look for.
First, it’s important to avoid cleansers with harsh ingredients or chemicals that further irritate the skin and could even result in dryness. To achieve this, you can use a wet washcloth to gently wipe down the area with water and some non-irritating soap.
You can also use a gentle wet wipe to cleanse the skin and promote soothing of the skin as well. While choosing what cleansers to use, look for something that’s pH balanced. This helps maintain the delicate acidity of skin to protect the skin’s moisture barrier.
Our no-rinse cleansing spray is also a great option for cleaning skin. It’s infused with vitamin E and aloe vera, which are both soothing and gentle for sensitive or damaged skin. This spray is also pH-balanced to help maintain the skin’s homeostasis and moisture barrier. Vitamin E is an essential antioxidant proven to support skin health and improve the structure of skin molecules. Aloe vera also offers soothing benefits for irritated skin.
One of the side effects of incontinence and prolonged urine exposure to the skin is dryness. This can be dangerous to the skin’s moisture barrier as well, so it’s vital to use a hydrating moisturizer to protect the skin.
When choosing a moisturizer, look for one free of alcohol. Alcohol is harsh and irritating to skin and can actually make the skin even more dry. Instead, consider using a protective moisturizer designed specifically for the skin’s moisture barrier. Infused with vitamin E to help strengthen skin cells and zinc for added healing, our moisturizer helps soothe skin and promote healing for damaged or irritated skin.
Using a healing salve is another important way to protect the skin. Consider a salve made from hemp extract. The benefits of hemp are shown to help soothe inflammation when applied to the skin. Especially if you have incontinence associated dermatitis, the skin can become inflamed. To protect against this, massage a small amount of our hemp extract relief salve to the affected area.
Incontinence skin care matters, too. Luckily, the tools and resources available to help you care for and protect your skin are abundant. Incorporating a proper skin care routine into your day is a great way to promote your skin’s health, urinary health, and even protect against infections or serious skin issues.