Well, babies aren’t the only people who get diaper rash.  If you’re an adult who wears diapers, incontinence briefs or pads, unfortunately, you’ll probably suffer from adult diaper rash at some point in time.  According to the Urology Care Foundation, some 33 percent of adults have bladder control issues and 80 percent of them are women.

What are the causes of adult diaper rash?

Diaper rash is primarily brought on by diapering practices that are not the most sanitary. These are a few causes that can produce the uncomfortable rash:

  • The skin is exposed to irritants such as the ammonia in urine and/or the enzymes in stools for long periods of time
  • Constant rubbing or chafing of the skin
  • Allergic reactions to the ingredients (dyes, perfumes) used in the diapers, underwear, pads, or personal hygiene wipes, lubricants
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Skin flare-ups from dermatological issues like psoriasis and eczema

What are the symptoms of adult diaper rash?

Adult diaper rash can show up in areas like the groin and buttock, but it can also pop up on your thighs and hips.  The condition can result in:

  • Pink to reddish irregularly-shaped patches or spots of dry skin
  • Itchiness and burning
  • A mass of tiny red raised bumps or welts filled with a fluid
  • Pain and tenderness

If the diaper rash is infected, you might experience:

  • Pus that oozes from the blisters
  • General malaise
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

How is adult diaper treated?

The best way to avoid getting adult diaper rash is to change your diaper, pad or brief at least every two hours, sooner if it is very wet, or immediately after soiling yourself.  You should also exercise such sanitary personal hygiene habits as:

  • Washing the affected area with a mild hypoallergenic cleanser and warm water, then thoroughly pat, and not rub dry
  • Avoid soaps, cleansers and personal wipes that have fragrances, dyes, and alcohol
  • Only wear diapers, pads, and briefs when necessary to encourage airflow
  • Avoid wearing briefs or diapers that are too tight
  • Consider superabsorbent, breathable, hypoallergenic briefs and pads
  • After bathing or cleansing, try air drying your damp skin
  • Try an OTC ointment with zinc oxide which is an effective barrier against moisture

If the adult diaper rash is severe, or it does not improve after about three days of trying the suggested remedies, it is best to see a physician.  Even though poor hygiene is usually the culprit behind adult diaper rash, there might also be some underlying medical causes for it.

A doctor might prescribe a few topical antifungal medications such as ciclopirox, nystatin, or a type of imidazole to more aggressively treat the adult diaper rash.  Those with more severe cases of the condition will probably be prescribed oral drugs in addition to topical antifungal creams.  Folks who suffer from psoriasis and eczema may need to use corticosteroid creams and ointments during flare-ups.


For more information:  American Urological Association, www.auanet.org