Incontinence in the aged: contact dermatitis and other cutaneous consequences

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Urinary and faecal incontinence affects a significant portion of the elderly population. The increase in the incidence of incontinence is not only dependent on age but also on the onset of concomitant ageing issues such as infection, polypharmacy, and decreased cognitive function. If incontinence is left untreated, a host of dermatological complications can occur, including incontinence dermatitis, dermatological infections, intertrigo, vulvar folliculitis, and pruritus ani. The presence of chronic incontinence can produce a vicious cycle of skin damage and inflammation because of the loss of cutaneous integrity. Minimizing skin damage caused by incontinence is dependent on successful control of excess hydration, maintenance of proper pH, minimization of interaction between urine and faeces, and prevention of secondary infection. Even though incontinence is common in the aged, it is not an inevitable consequence of ageing but a disorder that can and should be treated. Appropriate clinical management of incontinence can help seniors continue to lead vital active lives as well as avoid the cutaneous sequelae of incontinence.

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