In the article, Perineal Skin Care for Patients with Frequent Diarrhea or Fecal Incontinence, nurse Vicki Haugen describes how to best care for skin that is in frequent contact with stool. Skin serves as a protective barrier against trauma or disease and acts as the first line of defense, guarding from outside factors while helping to maintain a balanced environment within the body. Frequent or repeated contact with liquid and very soft poop can damage the tissue in the perineal area if not properly protected. Moisture alone against the skin can cause it to breakdown and become more susceptible to injury; stool contains other irritants that can exacerbate this.
Prevention when possible is the best protection, since this can keep the skin from breaking down in the first place. When there is frequent exposure to liquid stool, this requires cleansing the area often which can result in dry skin from soap and water. Therefore, choosing appropriate cleansing agents is very important. Products with a pH of 4-7 should not upset skin integrity. Cleansers such as Dove Soap or Body Wash and Johnson’s Baby Bath have the correct pH. It is also important to protect the skin with a barrier cream or ointment. Finding the right product that is reasonably priced but provides the necessary barrier for patients can be a challenge. Patients or caregivers may find it beneficial to ask their health care provider’s assistance with this, as there are products available only by prescription that may be worthwhile. In addition, a medical professional’s knowledge and experience of what works with regard to individual needs and specifications is often valuable.