How can I treat incontinence?
If you are suffering from incontinence and need to use a pad, it is always advisable to change it often in order to keep your skin healthy. Most people suffering from urinary incontinence will need to change their continence pads regularly, about four to six times a day. Here’s a look at when you should change your pad and why.
Change your pad when it's wet
The most common forms of skin damage caused by incontinence include dermatitis, 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. If you do suffer from incontinence, it’s important to look after your skin, as prevention is the best cure for incontinence-related skin issues.
Preventing incontinence-related skin damage
To keep skin healthy, it’s important to keep it clean and dry. Wash your 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 you're out and about to make cleaning your skin simple and convenient. It's also worth checking if your pharmacy stocks 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 you do need to use these creams sparingly, as they can create a moist environment more conducive to infection, and can also interfere with the absorbency of incontinence pads.
Don’t forget to change your incontinence pads regularly. Even though incontinence products are designed to absorb fluid, they will eventually become damp – failing to change them regularly means keeping your skin in contact with urine for longer.
Treating skin damage caused by incontinence
If your skin has become damaged as a result of incontinence, it’s important to identify the problem and treat it in the correct way. Consult your GP or healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis of your skin problem and to obtain advice on the best treatment option.
Many incontinence-related skin problems can be effectively resolved through correct treatment:
- In the case of yeast or fungal skin infections, products such as antifungal powders can help clear up the infection. Do not use baby powder as this could make the infection worse.
- If you have developed incontinence-related dermatitis, treatment usually includes protecting the skin from further exposure to irritants and applying a topical cream or lotion.
- Antibiotics can be used to treat bacterial infections. These sometimes develop as secondary infections on top of incontinence-related dermatitis.
Incontinence-related skin problems can be very uncomfortable and exacerbate the challenge of living with incontinence. Looking after your skin and responding quickly to any problems that arise can make it a little bit easier to manage life with incontinence.