If you’ve ever had or cared for a baby, you know how irritating a diaper rash can be. But, unfortunately, this kind of rash isn’t something only infants deal with. For adults who use bladder protection products like adult diapers or pads, a diaper rash is likely something you’ve dealt with at some point. Itchy, raw skin is painful and can interrupt your daily life. That’s why we want to share some tips for the best ways to treat and prevent adult diaper rash so you can get on with enjoying your life, free from irritation.
Can Adults Get Diaper Rash?
Yes, it’s actually quite common for adults who use bladder protection underwear (AKA adult diapers or incontinence briefs) to get diaper rash, which is also known as diaper dermatitis. It’s even possible—though less common—for people who don’t use adult diapers to get this skin condition. Diaper rash in adults is often caused by damp skin (from sweat or urine) rubbing up against bladder protection products and causing irritation. While this is common in many older adults who suffer from incontinence, through proper treatment and prevention methods, you can heal and prevent it.
What is Adult Diaper Rash and What Does Adult Diaper Rash Look Like?
The telltale signs of diaper dermatitis are pink or red irritated skin that’s painful when touched or rubbed. (The signs and symptoms of adult diaper rash are the same as they are for babies, so it’s easy to recognize.) If it’s a more severe diaper rash, there may also be scattered raised bumps and peeling skin. And the more severe the rash, the larger the area of irritated skin you’ll experience.
What Causes Diaper Rash in Adults?
There are a few main causes of adult diaper rash, and it is often caused by a combination of factors. Chafing, dampness, and skin sensitivity all contribute to this skin condition.
- Friction: The friction caused by wet skin rubbing against an adult diaper causes chafing and skin irritation, which can easily lead to diaper rash. Additional chafing can occur if the protective underwear or incontinence briefs you’re using are too tight. Here’s how to find the right fit. Those with sensitive skin and eczema are particularly prone to the irritation of chafing, and therefore developing diaper rash.
- Improper Washing: When the genital area isn’t washed properly and/or regularly, a rash can occur in the area where bladder protection products are worn. That’s why it’s important to bathe regularly, as well as thoroughly clean your genital area every time you use the bathroom.
- Infrequent Diaper Changes: Waiting too long between changing your incontinence products, and therefore exposing your genital area to excessive moisture and chemicals found in urine and stool, can result in irritation and rashes. This also leads to chafing and the skin irritation we mentioned above. More frequent changes can also help prevent unexpected leaks.
- Allergic Reaction: Some bladder protection products are formulated with fragrances or irritating chemicals, which can cause an allergic reaction for those with sensitive skin. With this in mind, Because bladder protection underwear and pads are all latex and fragrance-free, and formulated without harsh chemicals and irritants.
- Bacterial Infections or Fungal Infections: Bacteria and fungus (like candida, the cause of yeast infections) grow in warm, moist environments. Candida is a common culprit of causing diaper rashes in older adults.
Symptoms of Adult Diaper Rash
As mentioned above, the main symptoms of diaper rash are:
- Pink or red patches of skin, found in the area that comes in contact with protective underwear
- Skin that’s in pain, irritated, raw, and/or inflamed
- Raised red bumps or skin lesions
- Dry and/or peeling skin
- Itching or burning sensations
You may experience all of these symptoms or only a few.
How to Treat Adult Diaper Rash
Treatment for adult diaper rashes is pretty straightforward, and with proper treatment the rash often clears up within 24 hours. The essential steps for treating adult diaper rash are a few simple health habits: cleansing the area, letting it dry, then treating the area by applying a topical diaper rash cream.
Properly cleaning the buttocks and genital area are essential when experiencing diaper rash. When possible, cleanse the area with warm water and mild soap. When this isn’t possible, use cleansing wipes or a cleansing spray to thoroughly clean the area.
Because Flushable Cleansing Wipes are an excellent choice for those with sensitive skin, as the non-irritating, pH-balanced formula is made with soothing Vitamin E and moisturizing aloe vera extract. Our No-Rinse Cleansing Spray is another great option for cleansing at home or on-the-go. The spray is infused with nourishing aloe vera extract, chamomile and Vitamin E to soothe, condition and restore irritated skin, bringing it back to its natural balance.
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You don’t want to put incontinence briefs back on if your skin is still damp, as this will further irritate your skin. Instead, wait a few minutes for your skin to air dry after using cleansing wipes. If you’ve bathed or showered, gently pat dry the area, but don’t rub! Rubbing irritated skin will only further irritate and inflame the area.
It can also be helpful to “air out” the rashy area for periods of time each day, as exposure to oxygen can help heal the skin. If you’re able, spend even a few minutes each day without wearing your protective underwear.
Once your skin is dry, apply a diaper rash ointment or a good barrier cream (ideally one with zinc oxide as an active ingredient) to the affected area. This will help seal out wetness, prevent further chafing and irritation, and help the skin begin to heal.
The Best Diaper Rash Cream for Adults
Because Barrier Skin Cream is a great option if you’re looking for a diaper rash cream formulated specifically for adults. This cream helps prevent irritation from chafing, rubbing, and sore spots caused by incontinence or wearing incontinence protection products. It’s formulated with zinc oxide, which encourages skin repair and boosts skin’s barrier to protect against future inflammation. This cream’s sealing effects help prevent increased irritation from diaper rash and prevents new abrasions from forming.
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How to Treat Adult Diaper Rash From Diarrhea
While a majority of older adults who deal with incontinence simply have bladder leaks, some people suffer from bowel incontinence. This is further complicated with dealing with diarrhea. Stool can be very irritating to the sensitive skin in the genital area, so it’s important to change your incontinence products as soon as an accident occurs. This is key to rash treatment. From there, it’s absolutely essential to fully cleanse the area. Our Flushable Cleansing Wipes are a perfect option for cleansing between showers or baths. You may also want to consider some odor control products.
How to Prevent Adult Diaper Rash
By following the treatment plan outlined above for adult diaper rashes, you can also prevent another rash from recurring. Or, if you’ve never experienced adult diaper rash, these steps will also hopefully help you from succumbing to the discomfort and irritation of a diaper rash.
Regular cleansing is key, as well as allowing skin to fully dry after cleansing. Following cleansing with an incontinence skincare routine is essential to keeping skin healthy. Specifically, Barrier Cream is a necessary addition to your routine, as it not only helps to treat diaper rash but it can also help prevent irritation and chafing. Making this cream a part of your daily routine will help prevent future rashes.
Aside from the three steps of cleansing, drying, and treating the skin in your diaper area, it’s also important to change soiled products as quickly as possible. Frequent changes mean less time exposed to damp underwear or pads, which can help prevent irritation and rashes. Choosing products with moisture-wicking capabilities, which pulls moisture away from the body, are also very helpful. This is particularly important in nighttime incontinence products, like overnight underwear, since you likely wear those products throughout the night.
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Potential Complications and When to Call Your Doctor
While most diaper rashes clear up within a day or two of beginning to properly treat them, if the rash doesn’t clear up after three days, it’s time to consult with your doctor. You may need a medicated ointment to help clear up your rash and make sure you don’t have any other medical conditions that are complicating your healing. You should also call your doctor if you suspect you have a bacterial or fungal infection, as you may need a topical antifungal cream or an oral tablet to help treat the infection.
If you have frequent and recurring diaper rashes, it’s also worth talking with your doctor about a treatment plan and discussing steps to avoid rash recurrence.
Do you or a loved one suffer from incontinence? Take our bladder protection quiz and get a free starter pack to try.