How can I help my husband from becoming sore due to his bowel incontinence?

Joyg asked...

My husband has bowel incontinence. He tries to go many times a day, but can't complete, which means I clean him up sometimes four to five times a day. This has caused a rash and soreness and some bleeding which hurts him. The doctor said to keep him dry, which I try to do, but it is almost impossible since he can't tell me when he has to go. Any suggestions out there?

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

I would first like to say that you should find out why he is having bowel incontinence.  Did the doctor say why this is happening?   Was the medications your husband takes reviewed to make sure they are not making the problem worse?   Are you sure he is not constipated, as sometimes people leak liquid stool around stool that is stuck somewhere in his bowels?

Sometimes, bulking agents can help the stool become more solid, decreasing leaking.  Examples of this include fiber additives, like Metamucil or Fibercon.  I would ask your doctor if this could help your husband.

Now, liquid stool is really tough on the skin.  To protect his skin, I would suggest using some kind of Petroleum ointment first .  Clean him well, pat dry, and then apply the ointment to all his exposed skin and around the rectum.  If that doesn't help, you should try something that you would use for diaper rash, which you could buy in the drugstore.  If that still doesn't work, your doctor can order special creams and ointments that may help this problem.

Good luck!