Another of those old topics that I always wanted to revisit is a more in-depth look on incontinence related skincare. I had a short blurb on it in my introductory series way back then, but as I’ve gotten to a point where I’m wearing diapers around the clock, some of my views on the subject have changed just as my experience has grown and it became a more pressing matter to actually take care of this to not suffer from long-term side effects.
Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never been particularly good with this “It rubs the lotion on its skin!” stuff, as they say in Silence of the Lambs. Even today I’m far too negligent a lot of times and can only count myself lucky that my skin is rather resilient and so far has withstood more serious damage. Still, I’m not getting any younger and taking in corticoids by the bucket due to my chronic illness causes its own set of skin problems, so this is as good an opportunity to discuss the matter as any other.
Note: A lot of what I’m going to write is going to be a bit dry and theoretical before we get to the good bits, so bear with me. None of this is going to be super-scientific and we’re strictly going to focus on this in the context of incontinence, but some things still require a bit of explaining, longwinded as it may be.
The individual rationale why you use skincare products and of what sort they are will vary considerably, but in the context of wearing incontinence products there are a few reproducible reasons that apply almost universally. I’ll try to list them as comprehensively as I can here, but feel free to chime in via the comments and add your own thoughts. Let’s have it then.
Cleanliness and Hygiene
This should be a very self-evident reason. Hopefully you have a natural sense of cleanliness and personal hygiene already and if not, it might be time to learn some of the finer points. You simply don’t want to walk around smelling like a toilet nor would you want yucky substances to deposit themselves on your skin. It doesn’t take ten showers a day, no expensive special products nor tons of perfumes to feel clean and smell good. You just need to have certain regime and self-discipline to carry it through.
Improving Skin Resilience and Elasticity
As a prerequisite to some other things it is important that your skin should be as flexible and structurally intact as it can. This will in particular prevent striations, abrasions and skin chafing and in turn be conducive to actually wearing your product in the way it is intended, meaning an elastic skin will allow a better, tighter fit than dry skin that is sensitive and prone to cracking. It also stands to note that this can help with hair removal in your intimate regions (which of course as worth an entire discussion in itself) and cleaning things up.
Retaining Skin Moisture and Lipids
Odd as it may sound, one of the most annoying things when wearing incontinence products is that your skin will eventually feel and become dry. One wouldn’t think it, things being that at times you quite literally have a swamp wrapped around your bum when the diaper is full to the brim, but the fact remains – the chemical composition of urine can have ill effects just like the cotton bud like nature of the absorbent pad and its ingredients can rub off that thin layer of skin grease and suck your skin dry. Personally that’s one of the biggest gripes for me. I don’t mean to be offensive and vulgar, but honestly, on some days may scrotum itches so much, I could scratch my balls until they bleed because of this. It’s like I got a burn down there from sitting too long on hot sand. ;-)
Repairing Wounds and avoiding them
When wearing diapers or other incontinence products you’re at constant risk of suffering skin damage. From minor abrasions to paper cuts to things like inflamed hair follicles there’s a million things that can happen. Some of that can have further consequences like serious bacterial or fungal infections. Therefore you will need to help your skin out to heal faster or be strong enough to be less sensitive to these things in the first place.
Treating dermal Infections and Skin Diseases
As a direct conclusion from the previous point using specific skincare products can actually mitigate some of the effects of serious infections or chronic skin illnesses like Psoriasis. I for instance regularly suffer from recurring episodes of Tinea versicolor due to the corticoids weakening my skin’s immune barrier. Naturally in addition to specific medical creams and ointments as a treatment, complementary procedures would mean that you at least not spread the contaminants further by literally washing and wiping them off as best as you can.
Deriving from the reasons there are clear steps and procedures that determine the nature of products to use and the order in which to use them. These are three universal steps that can easily be remembered and I will add some additional notes where appropriate (and to sort the jumble I made in the previous when I was writing down things in the order they sprang to my mind). ;-)
Before you can even begin to think of going fancy, things always start with removing everything that might get in the way, be that sweat, urine and fecal remnants, bacteria and fungae, epidermal cell debris, leftover substances from previous skin treatments, rubbed of microscopic (or not so microscopic) parts and fibers from your clothes, underwear or diapers. That is to say, you always start with a clean slate.
Aside from the obvious of this being a self-serving argument there is another important reason: Just like in chemistry class you always start out with clean vessels to avoid an unpredictable outcome of your experiment, you will want to avoid unexpected interactions of different skincare products. This becomes especially important if you use multiple products from different vendors or are in a phase where you are trying things to find the best combination.
How you achieve that is of course another matter, but what should be clear to you readers is that everything is just a means to an end. Whether you prefer a shower, wiping yourself with a wet flannel or use what I will from hereon call “dry cleaning” using special gels, foams and tissue wipes is ultimately secondary. In fact most of the time you will end up combining these things into a sensible routine throughout the day like starting out with a full shower and then having smaller cleanings inbetween using wet wipes or other methods when you change your incontinence product. A lot of that will also depend on circumstances such as whether or not you have access to a suitable bathroom at your workplace and so on. More on that when we get to discuss the actual products and how they should be used.
2. Immediate Protection
This is of course the part that is perhaps a bit unique to incontinence-releated skincare and will concern regular people a lot less. Okay, they too use sunscreen, foot cream and a few other things, but few of them will very likely use special products like barrier creams or very rich (read: greasy) cosmetics to insulate their skin from the effects of incontinence. This also encompasses a few products that you may not use continually and only when you have specific skin problems, rashes or other reactions.
I will try to keep this to a sensible level, though, since there’s a fine line here between “serious” medical products, universally accepted, tried & tested drugstore products and specifically designed incontinence care products. If I were to discuss every scent or flavor, every type of emulsion, every kind of herbal extract and so on not only would mean this discussion would deteriorate into an endless confusing furball, but I’d also be catching a lot of flak due to different opinions. I would rather avoid that. ;-)
3. Long-term care
This is what most people consider their “normal” daily skincare beyond just rinsing, washing and scrubbing their skin and pertains to retaining and supporting your skin’s natural functions kind of indirectly. This is also the part where admittedly I’m a lamer. While it’s the biggest part of the cosmetics market, I’ve been immune to the temptations of all those creams, lotions etc. for a long time and never spent much money on it. Had I not started to shave my legs when I was into cycling and then also started to get rid of my body hair in some other regions, truth be told I’d never have discovered the smoothing and soothing effects of body milk and cooling gel. ;-)
That said, luckily this is something where by its very nature I can only tell you about what products I’m using (and what thanks to some companies sending me free samples I was able to test), so you can relax on this and for the most part should be able to stick to your existing routine. I definitely don’t plan to open up a YouTube beauty channel or lecture people on things I suck at myself nor do I have any intention on getting stuck on this for the next few years and testing literally millions of products. Keeping up with that diaper stuff is work enough for me already.
I hope I didn’t bore you with my introduction just as I hope it made at least a tiny bit clear where this article series is headed. If you have specific questions or ideas you would like to see discussed, feel free to fire away in the comments. In the next part I plan on covering what basic products you are going to need and what some of their ingredients are good for before in later articles I’ll look at some of the dedicated brands like you can already see them in the photos. See you next time then…