Incontinence Briefs Containing Spiral-Shaped Fiber Acidify Skin pH of Older Nursing Home Residents at Risk for Incontinence-Associated Dermatitis

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Abstract

PURPOSE:

The study's purpose was to assess the pH of the skin of older (aged ≥75 years) incontinent nursing home residents after exposure to an incontinence brief containing spiral-shaped fiber wet with an alkaline solution mimicking urine or fecal pH and compared to skin pH after exposure to an industry standard brief wet with the same solution and various controls.

DESIGN:

The design was experimental, as conditions were applied to skin and skin pH was measured in random order, and subjects served as their own controls.

SETTING AND SUBJECTS:

The setting was a Midwestern nonprofit nursing home. The sample was 26 nursing home residents; their mean age was 87 years (SD = 6 years); 77% were female. Most (69%) had urinary incontinence alone, and 31% had dual urinary and fecal incontinence.

METHODS:

Skin pH was measured in duplicate on 6 areas of the inner thighs and 6 areas of the volar surface of the forearms. Each area was exposed to 1 of 6 conditions applied in random order: an incontinence brief containing spiral-shaped fiber wet with an alkaline solution and one that was dry; a standard incontinence brief (without spiral-shaped fiber) wet with the same alkaline solution and one that was dry; the alkaline solution alone; and normal skin.

RESULTS:

On both the thighs and the forearms, skin pH was significantly lower (more acidic) after exposure to the incontinence brief containing spiral-shaped fiber wet with an alkaline solution compared to the wet standard brief and all other control conditions (P < .001). On thighs, the mean skin pH was 5.7 (SD = 0.5) after exposure to the wet brief with spiral-shaped fiber versus 6.4 (SD = 0.5) after exposure to the wet standard brief. On forearms, the mean skin pH was 5.3 (SD = 0.4) after exposure to the wet brief with spiral-shaped fiber versus 6.0 (SD = 0.4) after exposure to the wet standard brief.

CONCLUSIONS:

Incontinence briefs containing a spiral-shaped fiber significantly acidify the pH of the skin exposed to an alkaline solution, while industry standard briefs do not. Since alkaline skin pH is a risk factor for incontinence-associated dermatitis (IAD), results suggest that briefs with spiral-shaped fiber may help prevent IAD. Findings encourage further research.

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