Skin Care

National Continence Helpline

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What does the skin do?

The skin protects the body's organs, blood vessels and nerves. The skin between the legs (the perineum) and between the buttocks (the perianal area) is easily damaged.

What is a rash?

A rash is a change in the skin that affects its colour, how it looks and how it feels. A rash can be any size, with different colours. Some rashes have blisters, bruises or splits in the skin. Rashes can be itchy or painful.

Why does a rash matter?

  • A rash can be uncomfortable for the person and this might affect regular activites such as going to the toilet.
  • When the skin is damaged by a rash, the body can lose heat, water and nutrients that it needs.
  • A rash can let bacteria (germs) or fungi enter the body and cause an infection.
  • If the person gets a rash, it can get worse without the right care.

What causes a rash?

A lot of things can cause a rash. If you see a rash, it is important to take notice of:

  • how big it is
  • what it looks like
  • whether it is causing problems for the person, for example itching or pain.

You need this information to pass on to your supervisor, care coordinator or a health care professional.

There are a lot of reasons why a skin rash can happen in the perineum or perianal areas.

  • Some people have very sensitive skin and can have a reaction to products, for example soaps, washing powder, creams, lotions and powders.
  • The skin might be irritated by urine or faeces that is not cleaned properly and has dried on the skin.
  • The skin is not dried properly after washing the skin.
  • The person may have a medical condition, for example an infection or a skin disease.
  • The person has an allergic reaction to a medicine or food or something that has touched the skin.

How can you stop a skin rash developing?

To try to stop a skin rash from developing you need to provide good care when the person uses the toilet.

  • Be careful when helping clean the person after they use the toilet. The skin between the legs and buttocks can easily be damaged.
  • Dry the skin completely after bathing. Pat it gently, but don't rub the skin.
  • Take care when wiping the skin. Too much wiping can damage skin. If more cleaning is needed, you can use wet wipes (alcohol and fragrance-free) or wet toilet paper. For more information go to Cleaning after going to the toilet.
  • Avoid using scented soaps, deoderants and talcum powder. These products can irritate the skin.
  • Check the ingredients of the person's skin care products. Stop using them if they contain alcohol, perfume or disinfectant. These products can dry out the skin too much and lead to broken areas of skin and allergic reactions.
  • If barrier cream is needed to protect the skin for someone who uses continence pads, choose a product that can be used with continence pads. A continence nurse advisor, the National Continence Helpline or manufacturer's website can give you this information.
  • Check if the person has any allergies (or sensitivity) to a product or ingredient. Always read the ingredients list on the packet or bottle before using any product.

Ask for help from your supervisor, care coordinor or a health care professional if the person you support has a rash.

Don't put anything on a skin rash unless it is recommended for that person by their GP, or another health care professional.

Need more help? Call the National Continence Helpline on 18OO 33 OO 66 and talk to a continence nurse advisor.

Extra Resources

Take the Quiz

Question 1

If the person has skin rash:

don't worry about it because it will go away in a few days.

don't put anything on the rash unless it is recommended for that person by a health care professional.

only ask for help if the rash bleeds.

let them walk around without pants to air out the rash.

Question 2

You can stop a skin rash from happening between the legs by:

rubbing very hard after the person uses the toilet to make sure they are clean.

making sure you always use talcum powder to soak up the urine.

always showering someone after they use the toilet.

carefully cleaning the person after they go to the toilet using soft toilet paper or alcohol and fragrance-free wet wipes.

Question 3

You should take notice of skin rash because:

it only gets better if you watch it for a few days.

without the right care, a rash might get worse.

you need to change what the person eats to fix a rash.

you need to change the person's medicine.

Question 4

Why should you avoid cleansers with alcohol and fragrance?

They can cause an allergic reaction.

They can lead to broken areas of skin.

They can dry the skin too much.

All of the above.

This information is not a substitute for independent professional advice.