Management of incontinence with aids has improved over recent years.
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.
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.
A catheter is a tube used to empty the bladder through the urethra or abdomen.
Intermittent catheterisation is emptying of the bladder without a permanent catheter. Indwelling catheterisation is when the tube stays in the bladder for a longer period.
Collection bags are much smaller and more discrete than they used to be.
Better Health Channel: Urinary Catheterisation
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There are also devices that people can use for exercising pelvic muscles, such as vaginal cones.
These days, 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 is available. Contact support organisations and networks and talk to a pharmacist.