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18 Fearless Years


Gary Barg - Editor-in-chiefSaving the Skin Your Loved One Lives In

I have shared the story of my grandfather’s hand-carved wooden tool kit in the past. He was a painting contractor who took especially good care of his tools. He was also a tremendous portrait and landscape artist and he took an artisan’s care in his contracting work. I believe that we family caregivers also need to be artisans, craftsmen and craftswomen, as well as professionals in all aspects of caring for our loved ones.

One area in particular, that takes all of our skills and the proper tools, is incontinence care. Among the most important of the challenges we face as caregivers with loved ones who are living with incontinence is keeping their skin safe from harm. Not only (to paraphrase an old schoolyard joke) is your skin the largest organ that your body possesses, but as we age, our skin tears easier, heals slower and can even be subject to life-threatening issues such as pressure ulcers and incontinence lesions.

Some skin care tips to consider if your loved one is living with incontinence:

  • Stay vigilant regarding the condition of your loved one’s skin.
  • Check frequently for incontinence episodes.
  • Only use proper skin care products. Fragile, adult skin is different from baby skin and should be cared for with the most appropriate products.
  • Do not let your loved one's skin dry out. As well as cleaning after an incontinence episode, make sure you moisturize and revitalize the area.
  • You must clean their skin after each episode of incontinence. Reapply cream or ointment after cleaning and drying the skin.
  • Seek immediate medical support if you see any of the signs of incontinence-associated dermatitis (IAD) which results from frequent exposure to urine or feces. Symptoms of IAD include:

Skin that looks shiny and red (or white, dark reddish purple or yellow on darker skin )

Skin that is swollen, or has an oozing, crusty or scaly rash

Tingling, itching, burning or pain around the buttocks, rectum, labial folds, groin or between the legs

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards, even if you wore disposable gloves.

There are hardly any more important issues, where we need to become partners in care with our loved one’s professional care team and have the same tools that are available to them, as the issue of incontinence and skin care. Our actions, our knowledge, and the tools we apply can make all of the difference to your loved one’s health and well-being.

And that is no schoolyard joke.

Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine

Wednesday September 4th, 2013


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