How should I care for my skin if I have fecal incontinence?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
If you have fecal incontinence (unintended passage of stool), proper care of the skin in the anal area is critical to maintaining comfort and preventing skin irritation and breakdown. Skin irritation is more than a misery. It can invite infection and even compromise your treatment if the skin becomes too sore for your muscles to work well. If you have both urinary and fecal incontinence, bacteria in the feces can react with urine to produce ammonia, which lowers the skin pH and leaves it more vulnerable to infection. Yeast infections can also result, when yeast in the feces is nurtured by contact with urine.

Skin should be cleansed after each episode of incontinence. Choose an extremely mild, nonalkaline soap -- such as Dove or Basis -- or buy one of the special cleansers designed to gently dissolve and remove stool and urine. These are nonirritating, soap-free cleansing lotions; some are available in portable disposable wipes. They eliminate the need to scrub areas of tender skin, and some do not require that you rinse the skin after use. Look for nonalkaline, fragrance-free products.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.