Catheter Care: Preventing Maceration and Inflammation of Skin

Cleansers made specifically for incontinence care
are superior to soap and water. 
Those who suffer from incontinence, or must use a catheter should be conscious of skin care.
Prolonged exposure to moisture, fecal matter, urine, and perspiration leads to skin irritation and breakdown. You can take precautions to prevent maceration and inflammation of the skin.

What causes maceration? It is hard to protect against maceration if you don’t know the cause. It is caused by excessive amounts of fluid remaining in contact with the skin. This is usually caused by: a wound, urinary incontinence, or from excessive sweating. Exposure to moisture can lead to skin breakdown, pressure sores, and irritation.

Skin, especially that around a catheter, should be kept clean and dry to protect against maceration and inflammation. Damp skin breaks down more easily, especially under axial pressure.

Here are the basics of skin care when using a catheter or dealing with incontinence:
  • Change absorbent products regularly, and clean around the catheter regularly. Even though most absorbent products have a moisture barrier, and a core that helps wick moisture away from the skin, sitting in a soiled one too long can lead to irritation.
  • Check for inflammation or signs of infection in the area around the catheter. Check on a daily basis. Signs of infection include pus or irritated, swollen, red, or tender skin. If you see signs of infection, it is important to contact your healthcare professional. 
  • Clean the area around the catheter regularly using a specially formulated cleanser. Urine and feces contain bacteria that can lead to infection, maceration, and inflammation, thus regular cleaning is needed to protect skin integrity. Consider a pH balanced cleanser such as Lantiseptic Perineal Wash Spray or Foamer. Cleansers made specifically for incontinence care are superior to soap and water because they provide faster and easier removal of feces, and prevent skin dryness.
  • Air dry your skin after cleaning. Moisture is the top cause of skin breakdown. Be careful not to dry the area with rubbing. Friction can cause irritation to the skin.
  • Provide a moisture barrier. Prevent skin damage, particularly maceration, by using the zinc oxide based ointment. Lantiseptic Multi-Purpose Skin Ointment is a great option for protecting the skin from moisture between changing of products or the catheter. 
To find the best products for your incontinence needs quickly and easily, visit The Incontinence Product Finder And learn more about products specifically for incontinence skin care

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About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visit to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.


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