Diaper rash is a skin condition that can affect anyone wearing diapers or incontinence briefs. It mostly occurs in babies and toddlers, although adults too can suffer from it.
Typical signs of diaper rash include skin redness, irritation and inflammation. The signs appear on the diaper region but may spread to adjacent areas in the case of a severe rash.
In most cases, diaper rash disappears with home treatments. Medical treatment is necessary when yeast (candida) or bacterial infection is involved. It is therefore recommended that you check with your doctor if the rash doesn’t improve within 3-5 days. This article focuses on diaper rash in adults.
Can adults get diaper rash?
Diaper rash is mostly associated with babies and toddlers. So can adults get diaper rash? Is it possible to get the rash without wearing diapers? If so, what are its causes?
Adults who have to deal with incontinence and sometimes paralysis are potential victims of diaper rash. The rash can be caused by the following issues.
Wetness is perhaps the most common cause of diaper rash in adults. When the skin is overly exposed to moisture, it becomes fragile and weakened. This in turn invites various forms of skin injuries. A mixture of urine and fecal matter contains ammonia, an alkaline substance that may cause skin irritation.
Friction is another common cause of diaper rash in adults. It can be caused by incontinence briefs or fabrics rubbing against the skin. With time, the skin will become irritated and may develop a bit of rash.
Some adults may be allergic to perfumes used in adult diaper material. When diaper rash is being caused by an allergic reaction, it usually covers a large area rather than being localized to diaper region.
Proper washing is very important when dealing with a diaper rash bout. This includes not scrubbing or rubbing. When done with washing, moisture should be completely removed by patting dry or leaving to air dry.
Diarrhea is among the causes of diaper rash with blisters. It doesn’t necessarily cause the rash. What it does is increase wetness in the diaper area.
Candida is a fungus that lives on the skin and in the intestines. Use of antibiotics sometimes results in destruction of good bacteria which prevent yeast overgrowth. Adults with compromised immunity are also more prone to yeast infections.
Lastly, a diaper rash in adults can be caused by a bacterial infection. Bacteria reach superficial skin tissue through injuries on the skin. Although images may help with self-diagnosis, some staph infection diaper rash pictures look so bad that they may paint the wrong impression.
Diaper rash in adults symptoms
It is not hard to recognize a diaper rash. It presents similarly to atopic dermatitis but signs are localized to the diaper region. Below are the common diaper rash in adults symptoms:
- pinkness or redness on skin
- painful to the touch
- skin dryness
- irritation and inflammation
- papules and pustules
- skin breakdown
Diaper rash in adults symptoms may depend on the severity of the rash. A mild rash presents with pinkness and perhaps a number of papules. As the rash becomes severe, larger areas become affected and present redness and more bumps on skin. Severe rash is indicated by an inflamed diaper region, appearance of pustules, pain and appearance as though the skin is burnt.
Yeast diaper rash infection is characterized by bold red rash with very well defined borders. On the edges, you may notice tiny red bumps on raised skin areas. These signs begin in skin folds where it is warm, dark and wet due to presence of sweat. If not treated, the rash will most likely extend beyond the main rash. Diaper rash caused by yeast infection doesn’t go away easily. In most cases, antifungal cream has to be used.
Adult diaper rash appears on the thighs, buttocks and genitals. A severe rash may involve the hip area and tummy.
Adult diaper rash treatment
Medical adult diaper rash treatment is not always necessary. See your doctor if you suspect the rash is caused by a yeast or bacterial infection. In that case, your doctor will prescribe antifungal cream or antibiotics. These medications may be accompanied by a mild hydrocortisone cream to deal with inflammation and irritation.
Most adults are able to recover at home. The commonly used treatment is a diaper rash cream for adults. Such creams contain zinc oxide which is a skin soother and also promotes skin healing. There are various brands of diaper rash creams you can try. They are available over the counter and online stores. In fact, a baby diaper rash cream can be used. The important thing to look for is zinc oxide. You can start with searching for the best baby diaper rash cream.
Every brand of diaper rash cream comes with own instructions for how to use. Generally, the cream is to be applied on affected areas 2-4 times in a day. To keep diaper or underwear from sticking to the cream, cover with a layer of petroleum jelly.
Home remedies for diaper rash in adults
Below are some home remedies you can give a shot.
One of the best essential oils to use for a diaper rash is coconut oil. It has antimicrobial properties and also hydrates the skin. Other examples include frankincense oil, lavender oil and olive oil. Essential oils are among the best home remedies to use for painful diaper rash toddler bouts. When using essential oils for diaper rash, remember to dilute with carrier oil. The last thing you want is to have to deal with irritation caused by concentrated essential oil that was supposed to improve the situation.
Baking soda is alkaline. This enables it to reduce acidity in stool and urine mixture. It also keeps bacteria and yeast from growing in the diaper region. All these effects combined, you may be able to reduce inflammation, relieve pain and prevent infection associated with diaper rash with baking soda. One way you can use it is making and applying directly. Most people prefer baths to direct application. To make a baking soda bath for diaper rash, add 3 tablespoons to warm bathwater and let the patient soak in for 15 minutes. Prolonged use of baking soda may cause further irritation.
In regards to diaper rash treatment, oatmeal has two main benefits. The first one is that it promotes skin hydration and the second one is that it provides the skin with proteins that help in recovery. To make an oatmeal bath for diaper rash, add ½ cup of colloidal oatmeal to bathwater and let the patient soak in it for 15-20 minutes.
Apple cider vinegar
Both bacteria and yeast are unable to survive in environments with traces of apple cider vinegar. This makes it quite a considerable option for not only treating but also preventing diaper rash in babies and adults. In fact, apple cider vinegar can be used to clean cloth diapers in place of harsh washing detergents. Always remember to dilute before use and not to apply to broken skin.
The magnesium sulfate in Epsom salt allows it to draw unwanted fluid and toxins from the skin through osmosis. For this reason, Epsom salt baths can be used to reduce inflammation and severity of infection associated with diaper rash.
You can use purchased aloe vera gel although raw gel is more beneficial. Since aloe vera is fairly mild, it is among the good newborn diaper rash remedies.
How to prevent diaper rash in adults
When it comes to prevention, aim to eradicate moisture, friction and heat from the diaper region. These are the main factors that contribute to diaper rash. Below are some preventive and curative tips that may help:
- Try switching to cloth diapers or disposable ones if either is causing diaper rash.
- Use unscented diaper brands since fragrances can cause skin irritation to people with sensitive skins.
- Unless instructed by a doctor, stop using antibiotic creams. The same can be said for hydrocortisone creams. Antibiotic creams destroy good bacteria which in turn causes yeast overgrowth. Hydrocortisone creams cause skin thinning when overused.
- Always change a soiled diaper the soonest you can. A mixture of fecal matter and urine is a very potent irritant.
- At every diaper change, clean the diaper area, preferably with pure plain water. If using wipes, avoid the scented ones.
- Choose adult diapers that fit well. This will help avoid unnecessary rubbing against the skin.
- Try sitting in warm baths 2 times a day. For best results, add baking soda, colloidal oatmeal or Epsom salt to the bath water. Remember not to soak in for more than 20 minutes to avoid skin dryness.
- Some foods such as citrus fruits increase acidity of stools. Avoiding them may help during diaper rash bouts. Severe diaper rash from diarrhea can be treated with BRAT diet. Drinking plenty of fluids reduces acidity in stools which may be quite important during recovery from diaper rash.
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