Incontinence is a condition that affects nearly 24 million adults in India and remains to be one of the most stigmatized medical conditions. The fact that many people are ashamed to talk about incontinence and the embarrassment associated with this medical condition are the major contributing factors that lead to the lack of awareness about incontinence management and products that can make life with incontinence easier. If incontinence is not managed efficiently, it can lead to complications such as Moisture Associated Skin Damage (MASD) and the Incontinence Associated Dermatitis(IAD). Improper management of urinary incontinence can also lead to pressure ulcers. Ineffective management of incontinence can cause a huge number of skin conditions as continuous wetness of the skin makes it prone to abrasion injuries due to friction. There are many disposable products, clothing, and hygiene products that make incontinence management easy. These products can either be worn or be used by the person suffering from incontinence to minimize the effects thereby reduce the chances of acquiring secondary complications.
Absorbent Pads, also known as Adult diapers are the most widely known incontinence management product. These are of various types and come with various levels of absorbency. Absorbent pads are helpful for people who suffer from the problem of incontinence, bladder control, and other health issues and find difficulty in controlling urinary functions. Adult Diapers are also useful for people who cannot access the toilet frequently due to reasons such as being on bed rest. There are two types of adult diapers mainly –
- Brief/ Panty Style Adult Diapers – These adult diapers have tabs on the sides and a cloth-like or plastic backing. The ones with cloth backing make less noise than plastic and are usually the preferred option.
- Pull Up Adult Diapers - These pull on like underwear and have no tabs for attachment. They are much easier to take on/ off in comparison to the Brief Style Adult Diapers but are generally more expensive.
An ideal adult diaper fits well, controls microbial growth, is highly absorbent as well as cost-effective. High-quality adult diapers also control odor and offer a high liquid retention capacity. Apart from these different types of Adult diapers, there are numerous other products that can complimentarily manage incontinence and help users to avoid infections/ skin conditions commonly associated with this condition. These products can add value to the life of the person living with incontinence and greatly reduce the chances of secondary complications arising due to improper management of incontinence.
Underpads are one such product that helps protect surfaces, mattresses, and wheelchairs against damage due to incontinence. These can be used over car seats, furniture, and mattresses. Underpads sheets are made up of an absorbent fluff material and polymer and are highly absorbent in nature. Some underpads may also be equipped with adhesive tabs and backings which prevent the underpad from shifting when the patient moves. They are made up of a soft material to avoid irritation with the skin and wicks moisture away from the body. Some underpads also have Super Absorbent Poly (SAP) beads that absorb the fluid and convert them into a gel. Underpads usually have a multilayered construction with each layer performing a specific different function. The topmost layer is designed to stay the driest to avoid contact of moisture with the skin. Underpads should be chosen after comparing various parameters such as size, design, absorbability, skin health, cost, brand quality as well as ease of use. In addition to the underpads, common skin ailments such as irritation, redness and dermatitis can be prevented by cleansing and barrier products. Barrier Sprays such as 3M Cavilon No Sting Barrier Film protects damaged as well as intact skin from body fluids, friction, and adhesive trauma. It has an alcohol-free formula due to which no stinging occurs even while applying on damaged skin. Its fast-drying action produces a non-sticky and breathable transparent coating/ barrier on the skin. 3M Cavilon No-Sting Barrier Film is clinically proven to be effective for up to 72 hours and provides a simple solution to many problems related to incontinence such as Medical Adhesive Related Skin Injury (MARSI), Periwound skin damage, incontinence associated dermatitis and friction skin damage. Available in a range of delivery mechanisms such as a spray, liquid wand, and wipes, the product offers versatility to the patient for applying on any part of the body and any type of wound. Pressure ulcers often go hand in hand with incontinence. It is most commonly seen in people with reduced mobility and the elderly. Pressure Mattresses are designed to relieve the friction between the skin and the mattress and contribute to reducing the occurrence of bedsores and ulcers in people with incontinence. Pressure mattresses are available from leading manufacturers in a variety of types such as Static Mattresses, Alternating mattresses, and Hybrid mattresses which have different specifications and features. Prolonged use of such mattresses can help alleviate conditions such as pressure sores, bedsores, and ulcers which can have a debilitating impact. Furthermore, Odor control practices also play a vital role in incontinence management. These methods help by either preventing odor related to incontinence or to mask it effectively. Some of the common techniques employed for odor control are:
- Early detection of urine infections: Infection free urine isn’t extremely pungent smelling. The offensive odor is produced because of bacterial action on urea which yields ammonia and thus it is vital to treat infections as early as possible.
- Deodorizing tablets or Vitamin C: Certain deodorizing tablets as well as Vitamin C tablets can be effectively used to internally neutralize the smell of urine.
- Regular and Proper cleaning: It is vital to regularly and thoroughly clean bed-sheets, clothing, urine bags, and other surfaces that may come in contact to rid them of odor. Using white vinegar or baking soda are common cost-effective solutions that can be used to avoid lingering unpleasant smells
There are various other basic lifestyle changes such as maintaining a balanced diet, ensuring good hygiene, drinking plenty of fluids, etc. that can contribute to reducing odors associated with incontinence helping individuals be more confident and comfortable. Incontinence wipes should also be kept handy as they can cleanse, moisturize and deodorize and are quick as well as easy to use. These wipes can be used anytime and should be carried during long-distance travel. Examining, cleansing, moisturizing, and protecting the skin while using incontinence products can significantly decrease the risks associated and complications arising due to incontinence. It is important to manage incontinence efficiently to improve the quality of life and minimize complications. The stigma associated with living with incontinence should be eradicated with the help of open conversations, seminars and more importantly generating overall awareness. Incontinence affects millions of people worldwide and suffering in silence shouldn’t be an option. This condition should not and must not force people to alter their daily routine as there are many products/ solutions that can take care of complications due to incontinence. The number of products available in the market to manage incontinence is vast which makes it easier to live with incontinence provided people are aware of these products and how to use them effectively.
Final Words: With proper management and awareness, living with incontinence should not deter people from going on with their daily lives and activities without any concern.