Continence Aids

Management of incontinence with aids has improved over recent years

Skin care

Good care of your perineal area is very important. Repeated wetting and drying of the skin around the anus not only irritates but reduces the skin's natural barrier abilities increasing its vulnerability to bacteria.

The products of the bladder and bowel can be very abrasive to the skin. Diarrhoea may still contain some of the chemicals the body produces to break down food. These chemicals damage the skin very quickly.

The longer skin is exposed to bladder or bowel waste the more damage is done.

For people who have both urinary and bowel incontinence, there's an added problem of urine and faeces reacting with each other and harming the skin still further.

It's important to keep the area dry and clean. But that doesn't mean rubbing and scrubbing. Be gentle. Use damp cotton wool for cleaning.

Repeated wetting and drying of the skin not only irritates but reduces the skin's natural barrier abilities increasing its vulnerability to bacteria

There are lots of products available to help with skin care, such as barrier creams which help protect your skin.

Your healthcare team can help you with specific advice and products that can alleviate skin conditions.

St Mark's Hospital: Advice on skin care for people with bowel problems (leaflets)

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Colostomy

This is when part of the colon is brought to the surface of the abdomen. This abdominal entrance to the colon is called a stoma. A bag is attached to this stoma.

Colostomy can be either temporary or permanent. Good skin care is required to avoid infection of the skin at the stoma site. Collection bags are much smaller and more discrete than they used to be.

Colostomy Association

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Continence aids and devices

There are many continence aids. These include absorbent pads, penile sheaths, vaginal devices, anal plugs, commodes, coverings for furniture and bedding and special clothing.

These products have improved over recent years. Pads are more comfortable and less bulky than their predecessors.

New materials mean they're also more absorbent and better at maintaining dryness.

There are also devices that people can use for exercising pelvic muscles, such as vaginal cones.

Nowadays, there are more companies producing more products and there's more choice.

Talk to your healthcare team about what's appropriate to your needs. They can tell you what's available from the NHS. Contact support organisations and networks and talk to a pharmacist.

It's important to keep the area dry and clean

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