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Why is good skin care important

Anyone who has frequent bowel motions, diarrhoea or accidental occasional leakage or faecal incontinence may get sore around the back passage from time to time.  This can be very uncomfortable and distressing.   Occasionally the skin may become so inflamed that it breaks into open sores.  These are then difficult to heal. Taking good care of the skin around your back passage can help to prevent these problems from developing.

Why may I get sore skin?

There are several reasons why your skin may become sore:

  1. The scientific reason for itching is that it is due to chemicals contained in the bacteria of the bowel motions.
  2. Your bowel contains digestive juices and acid which break down your food to enable your body to use the nutrients in it.  If you have very fluid bowel motions, the diarrhoea will still contain these juices and acid, which start to irritate the skin on contact. If you have faecal incontinence, the small quantity of juice and acid left in even the normal stool can damage the skin.
  3. If you open your bowels very frequently, repeated wiping can damage the sensitive skin of your anus.
  4. With some anal conditions it is very difficult to wipe your bottom effectively – a little always seems to get left.
  5. Sometimes the area around the anus becomes infected.

Tips to prevent soreness

If you are already sore

Follow all the advice above on prevention.  In addition:

  1. You may find that damp cotton wool or damp toilet paper is more comfortable to use for wiping.
  2. Use a barrier cream or ointment as recommended by your surgeon or Nurse Specialist.   If you have to use your own try Sudocrem, Vaseline or something similar.   These are available from your chemist.
  3. If drying the skin after washing is difficult or uncomfortable, you may try using a hairdryer on a low setting.
  4. Try not to scratch the anal area, however much you are tempted, as this will make things worse.   If you find that you are scratching the area in you sleep at night, you may consider wearing cotton gloves in bed. (Available from your chemist)
  5. Try to allow air to get to the anal area for at least part of every day.
  6. Don’t struggle on forever alone! Talk you your Nurse Specialist or Doctor, especially if your skin is broken.   If you have persistent sore skin you may have an infection which needs treatment and there are other products which can be prescribed to heal the soreness.