Updated 13 June 2018

4 tips to help keep fragile, elderly skin healthy

Early intervention and proper, gentle, preventive personal skincare can help minimise the risk of incontinence-related skin breakdown.

Did you know that soap and water can be bad for the skin? 

Incontinence is a common problem amongst the elderly and it can present challenges for caregivers, particularly when looking after delicate and sensitive skin.

TENA 3-in-1 Skincare and Cleansing products have been specially developed for use on fragile and sensitive skin and are suitable for everyday use on all skin types. Preventive personal skincare starts with the avoidance of moisture on the skin, as well as skin friction.

The TENA Skincare range has been specially developed to cleanse, restore and protect the skin. Incontinence of urine and/or faeces can give any individual an increased risk of developing skin problems.

Tip 1:

Avoid using soap and hot water on sensitive skin.  

Our top layers of skin have a low pH, about 5.5, and it is important that the products and care procedures we use do not disturb this natural pH. Frequent contact with hot water, as well as soap and water, strips the natural oils from the skin and make it dry.

Soap works by dissolving the dirt on the skin and can irritate the skin if it’s not rinsed off properly. TENA Non-rinse Wash Cream and Wet Wipes work by removing the dirt gently from the skin, without the need for rinsing.  Any product left on the skin nourishes and helps to protect it from damage. 

An independent study, conducted by researchers at University Hospitals Birmingham in the UK, demonstrated significant patient benefit and greater infection control through regular usage of TENA Wash Cream.

Tip 2:

Avoid rubbing sensitive skin vigorously

Elderly skin is at particular risk because ageing skin heals slowly and is fragile to pressure and rubbing. It also makes their skin sensitive to ongoing exposure to moisture and contact with urine and faeces. This may easily start the skin to break down causing irritation, itching or infection.

Elderly and vulnerable skin should be treated with care and tenderness.  When washing the face, arms, legs and the trunk, pat the skin dry and avoid rubbing as this may cause skin tears and friction burns.  By using TENA Non-rinse Wash Cream and Wet Wipes, you can clean the skin without the need for drying afterwards.  

Tip 3:

Be consistent 

Healthcare professionals agree that consistent personal skincare is essential to control odour, maintain skin integrity and the well-being of incontinent individuals.

Early intervention and proper, gentle, preventive personal skincare can help minimise the risk of incontinence-related skin breakdown. TENA believes in a total care approach that meets individual skin health needs.  As Incontinence experts, we understand that achieving good skin health is about providing quality absorbent products AND skincare products. 

Tip 4:

Encourage fluid and dietary intake

Many elderly people eat and drink poorly, and their bodies also have reduced ability to absorb nutrients from their food. This can mean that they are at risk from malnutrition. Decreased appetite, dental problems and illness can also impact on a person’s ability to eat.

Malnutrition has effects on the entire body and its functions, including skin health. Not enough key nutrients may for example lead to increased sensitivity to infections and impaired muscle strength. 

For advice please call us on 087 359 1079. Visit TENA for more information on bladder weakness. You can also buy TENA products online at TENA SHOP.


Ask the Expert

Incontinence Expert

Dr Prenevin Govender completed his MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2001. He obtained his Fellowship of the College of Urologists in 2009 and graduated with distinction for a Masters in Medicine from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His special interests include laparoscopic, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery. He consults full-time at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.

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