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Adult Diaper Rash: Causes & Treatment

What is Adult Diaper Rash?

Adult Diaper Rash normally occurs in people who have poor or no control over their bowels and bladder. These are usually people above the age of 60 or those who are bedridden due to chronic illness. These individuals have to wear adult diapers as they are not mobile enough to be taken to the restroom to relieve themselves every time.

Thus wearing adult diapers 24 hours a day causes the skin around the genital areas to get irritated and inflamed resulting in the development of a rash. This is what is termed as Diaper Rash. These rashes begin as small patches of skin discoloration that looks irritated. This then spreads and there is formation of painful large patch of erythematous skin [1].

An Adult Diaper Rash can be extremely discomforting and painful and make lives of these individuals extremely tough. However, this is quite an easy condition to treat and can be effective managed with over-the-counter medications and several home remedies. There are cases where the rashes are extremely severe, lasts for more than a couple of days, and normal modes of treatment are ineffective. In such cases, more aggressive treatment is required as it may be caused due to some other medical conditions or infections [1].

The common examples of infections that may cause Adult Diaper Rash include chronic skin disorders and yeast infections like psoriasis and eczema. This article gives a brief overview of some of the causes of Adult Diaper Rash and different ways to manage the condition [1].

What is Adult Diaper Rash?

What Causes Adult Diaper Rash?

Wearing a diaper is quite a common sight in babies and infants as they are not toilet trained. However, in some cases adults also need to wear diapers. This is especially if the individual is not able to go to the restroom on time due to mobility problems. People who are chronically bedridden or have conditions like Alzheimer dementia need to wear diapers to prevent them from soiling their clothes [1].

Chronically wearing diapers can lead to skin irritation as a result of the moisture due to sweat that gets trapped within the area covered with the diaper. This results in the development of Adult Diaper Rash. Additionally, constant rubbing of the diaper against the skin also results in skin irritation causing diaper rash. Sometimes, the urine that is trapped within the diaper does not get completely soaked. This leaks on the skin and causes inflammation resulting in Adult Diaper Rash [1].

Some diapers are perfumed or are made of material to which the individual may be sensitive to. This results in an allergic reaction which causes the skin to get inflamed and cause Adult Diaper Rash. If an individual develops yeast infections like that caused by candida albicans results in formation of Adult Diaper Rash. In some cases, bacteria can infiltrate the skin surrounding the diaper area. This can result in a bacterial infection of which the one of the presenting features is a diaper rash [1].

People with a history of eczema or psoriasis are also at risk for developing Adult Diaper Rash. It should be noted here that an Adult Diaper Rash cannot only be caused in people who wear a diaper. There have been cases where an individual who does not wear an adult diaper still gets this rash. They can also be caused if an individual does not practice good genital hygiene [1].

People wearing undergarments made of fabric they are allergic to or using soaps and lotions that are perfumed and contain chemicals also at times develop Adult Diaper Rash.

How is Adult Diaper Rash Treated?

This condition can be effective treated with certain home remedies. These include [1]

  • Changing diapers at regular intervals to prevent the skin from getting irritated or immediately after soiling them.
  • Not continuing to wear wet diapers and changing them immediately
  • Washing the area with lukewarm water at least two to three times a day everyday with disinfectants or soaps without perfumes or chemicals. They are easily available at local pharmacy store.
  • Once the skin is washed it is essential to pat the area completely dry and ensuring not to rub the area.
  • Wear underwear over the diaper only if absolutely necessary so that the skin underneath it does not get irritated. It should also be ensured that the undergarment is not too tight and rubs on the skin and irritates it.
  • Petroleum jelly and zinc oxide have been found to be extremely effective in treating Adult Diaper Rash and hence should be used for symptom relief [1].

In case if the above mentioned treatments are ineffective and the severity of the rash worsens and lasts for more than a couple of days then it is recommended to consult with a physicians. This is because it may indicate a more serious illness than just a diaper rash. Poor hygienic practices and skin irritation along with infections are primary causes of rashes around the genital area. However, there are other medical conditions that can also cause diaper rash [1].

In case if a fungal infection is the reason behind Adult Diaper Rash then the physician will prescribe antifungals like nystatin or imidazole which have been proved to be quite effective in eliminating diaper rash. These creams need to be applied two times a day for a period of at least a week. In severe cases along with topical medications, oral antifungal medications will also be given to the patient. For cases where bacterial infection is believed to be the cause of Adult Diaper Rash, then antibacterial will be prescribed in topical forms and in severe cases oral antibacterial will be prescribed [1].

The cream will need to be applied a couple of times a day for a period of a week to 10 days to clear off the bacterial infection. For people with eczema or psoriasis, there are a lot of creams and lotions that are quite effective in treating the condition. Corticosteroids are the most preferred medications for treating flare-ups of psoriasis and eczema [1].

Adult Diaper Rash is definitely preventable and the best way to do it is by practicing good hygiene. This can be done by changing diapers on a regular basis. Wearing soiled or wet diapers should be avoided. During diaper change it is important to clean the area with soap and water and patting it dry completely before wearing a new diaper.

Once this is done, then powder or moisturizers should be applied on the area before wearing the new diaper [1].

Coconut oil and aloe vera are the best and most preferred products that can be applied to the skin before changing diapers. Calamine lotion is also quite effective in treating itching sensation and skin irritation which can also lead to Adult Diaper Rash. It is best to use hypoallergenic pads or briefs that have pores in them to allow air to flow in and out of the genital area to prevent from the areas getting moist and irritated [1].

In conclusion, majority of the cases of Adult Diaper Rash resolves within a couple of days by practicing good hygiene and using lotions, creams, and disinfectants. However, in cases where the Adult Diaper Rash is extremely severe or it is caused due to some other medical conditions, then it may require more aggressive treatment to prevent any further damage to the skin and reduce inflammation and also prevent complications from arising [1].

A consultation with a physician is recommended if Adult Diaper Rash lasts for more than two days and do not resolve with basic home remedies. Physician checkup is also required if the rashes are painful and affects the basic activities of daily living and there are other symptoms like fever, bleeding from the rashes, or pus formation [1].

Painful urination and pain with passing stools is yet another symptom that requires physician consultation to identify a cause and start treatment for it. An early treatment is necessary for Adult Diaper Rash as any delay may result in unwarranted complications [1].

It is vital to identify and treat bacterial and fungal infections early. This is because if not treated these infections tend to spread quickly to the surrounding areas and cause more discomfort. It may become difficult for the affected individual to sit, stand, or ambulate [1].

People with medical conditions like Alzheimer disease may not even notice the onset of infection. This makes the job of the caregiver more important to ensure that the diapers are changed in time and the area is cleaned to prevent any infection from developing as a result of Adult Diaper Rash [1].


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 29, 2020

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