Bowel incontinence is an embarrassing and stressful problem for any patient and for the caregiver. It can cause emotional distress as well as the physical problems often associated with fecal incontinence. The skin that surrounds the anus is particularly sensitive and delicate. Any problems with your stools such as diarrhea and constipation can cause severe pain or itching in that area. Anal discomfort is a real problem for someone with fecal incontinence. There are ways to relieve this discomfort.
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The area around the anus is one of the most sensitive parts of the body. The skin is delicate and can easily become inflamed and cause pain and itching. There are several steps you can take to relive any discomfort and pain you might have after the stool comes into contact with the skin around the anus. Wash the area with water after a bowel movement. Do not use soap because that can dry out the skin and make any pain and discomfort worse. If it is possible, take a lukewarm shower. You may also try using a skin cleanser that requires no rinsing. Toilet paper can worsen the discomfort so try to avoid using toilet paper to clean up. Premoistened, alcohol-free towelettes are available to use for cleaning of this sensitive area.
If it is possible, let the area air-dry. This is not always feasible but if you can it is the best choice. If you do need to dry quickly, use a lint-free cloth. Using a cream with a moisture proof barrier will help prevent the skin from coming into contact with the stools. Talk to your doctor before you decide which cream to use because some can contain irritating ingredients. If you are using a moisture barrier cream, the area should be thoroughly clean to avoid trapping bacteria under the layer of cream that can do further damage.
You should also try using a nonmedicated powder for the area after it is cleaned. The powder should not have any irritating ingredients and using cornstarch from your cupboard is an inexpensive powder to use for anal discomfort.
How else can you relieve pain and discomfort from irritated skin in the anal area? Wear breathable clothes! If you wear clothes that breathe, it allows the anal area to stay dry naturally. Tight clothes can make any anal discomfort worse. If your clothes should become soiled, change them as soon as possible. If you are caring for an elderly patient who wears protective underwear, be sure they are changed frequently to avoid skin irritation. If protective undergarments or disposable pads are used, make sure they have a layer on top that pulls moisture and stool away from the skin and into the pad or protective garment.
Avoiding situations that can cause discomfort can also help. Know where the restrooms are when you enter an establishment, use the bathroom before you leave the house and wear those protective garments or disposable pads. Be prepared! If you think you might have an accident, carry a tote with you containing supplies to clean up with and a change of clothing. Deodorants are also available for fecal matter that can make you feel more comfortable in public.