How Should I Clean the Skin After Someone With Incontinence Has an Accident?

5 answers | Last updated: Mar 24, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

How should I clean the skin after someone with incontinence has an accident?

Expert Answers

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

Use the right supplies and a consistent approach. It's important to get the skin both clean and dry after an incidence of bladder or fecal incontinence. Many older people will need help with this because they lack the mobility to do a thorough job, or they may feel embarrassed and want to dispense with the cleanup quickly and ineffectively.

Try storing a cloth bag of supplies in the bathroom, and a second one that you can grab to take with you when you go out (or just stash it in the car). In it, keep:

  • Some extra incontinence pull-ups or panties

  • Wet wipes (such as children's diaper wipes or other wipes made for the skin)

  • A body wash that doesn't have to be rinsed (these can be bought in medical-supply stores or drugstores that carry medical supplies; they often feature aloe vera as an ingredient)

  • A washcloth

  • Cornstarch or powder (optional)

First, wipe the area clear with the wet wipe. Then partly wet the cloth with warm water and apply some of the rinse-less soap. This product saves you work and time. Pat the area dry with the dry part of the washcloth. Some people like to apply a cornstarch-type powder -- usually sold as baby powder -- to aid drying.

Let the person know what you're doing at each step: "Now I'm going to use a wet wipe." Offer to let them participate, if they can: "Would you like to clean over your privates yourself?" (Go over the area again if necessary.)

Replace with a clean, dry incontinence product.

Community Answers

Gina flores answered...

Many people are not aware that regular bar soaps and/or antibacterial soap can dry the skin, raise its pH,and contribute to skin breakdown. These products should not be used in sensitive areas.

The combination of an alcohol-free, soap-free, rinseless spray wash and a protective skin cream barrier is the best protection for skin exposed to urinary and/or fecal incontinence.

Product recommendations: Ca-Rezz No-Rinse Wash and Ca-Rezz Skin Cream

Ca-Rezz No-Rinse is formulated with Triclosan and Nonoxynol-9 to remove infectious micro-organisms that can cause painful rashes and skin breakdown. Its pH balanced formula is kind to fragile skin.

Ca-Rezz cream is specially formulated with Calamine, Aloe Vera, Allantoin, and Vitamins A, D, E to soothe and promote healing of fragile, irritated skin. It creates a moisture barrier to protect the skin from exposure and contains anti-microbial ingredients that help reduce odor and protect against infection.

These products are not found in retail stores, but can be purchased from online medical supply companies such as

Cmtanet answered...

We need to know what products can be purchased at retail stores. Who has time to look up and find medical supply places?

Mkl answered...

To the bags, add exam gloves and lotion for yourself. These are available in bulk at Sam's or Costco or drug stores and most grocery stores. Disinfectant wipes for surfaces that may have been contaminated are also helpful. Another suggestion: Keep a bag of supplies in the car and at any home you regularly visit. Also, an inexpensive bathroom cabinet or nightstand placed in the bathroom containing these supplies is a convenient way to manage them.

A fellow caregiver answered...

rubber+darkness+moisture --> fungal infections. then itching & scratching can lead to further infections. Better choice material for skin pullups: Always, Depend silhouettes OR Depend adjustible underwear w/ velcro closing. we find the max absorbancy is good for lying down at night. also rite aid brand pullups made to compare to silhouettes will be smaller sized but very effective and easy on skin. Prevail also has a great variety of sizes and types. overall skincare must be good & then the accidents arent as bad for the skin: at least once daily wash area thoroughly while lying down. aloe vesta is very gentle on skin. use a&d ointment (we like the rite aid brand) as barrier, if diaper rash mix with some desitin. pour some baby powder into panty or diaper before pulling up. as needed during day, wipe with huggies natural care or rite aid tugaboos hypoallergenic alcohol free, both gentle. follow with more cream & powder in panty before pull up. we have seen excellent results both in cutting down rash healing time and in pressure sore healing by mixing 2 or 3 drops of organic coconut oil from the supermarket into the a&d (enough to turn it from yellow to white in the gloved hand. needless to say,always clean front to back, especially if fecal incontinence is the problem. bring plastic bags for garbage / laundry to the area you are working in before you begin, so everything is removed, and immediately tidy. as long as you are matter of fact about things, your relative will also be calm.