Staying Dry: Summertime Tips and Tricks

Community Member

I just got back from a family reunion on the Gulf Coast and, while I've just had Botox injections into my bladder to control my urge incontinence, I still have to deal with stress incontinence, which the Botox does not address.

As most of us know, the summer heat and humidity makes this more uncomfortable. Here are a few tips I've learned for dealing with these issues:

Cleanliness. It's important to wash and change as pads become wet, or as practical. Even a small amount of dampness can be a problem this time of year. I generally use plain soap with no perfumes or deodorants. I don't have particularly sensitive skin, but sometimes these can be very irritating. I am careful to rinse off all traces of the soap to prevent drying.

If my skin does become chafed or irritated, I wash only with copious amounts of warm water, not using any soap, even for my bottom. It's important to remove all traces of urine and other irritating matter, as bacteria will convert it to ammonia, which smells. If no wash cloth is available and I have to use something like a baby wipe, I will rinse these in water first, as even unscented wipes can aggravate irritated skin.

No powder. I'm sure I had my diaper area powdered as a baby, but I've learned the hard way not to use it. This may seem counter-intuitive. However I have learned you can't put enough on to absorb all the wetness, and it just turns to a gooey mess if you do. Also, some powders contain menthol, which, trust me, you don't want to use on chafed or irritated skin

Ointments. I've tried a variety of ointments and diaper creams to help when I do have chafing. For me personally, I have found ointments without zinc oxide are better. A&D ointment seems to works best. I have used "butt paste," but found it was somewhat sticky and messy. Udder cream works, too.

I only use ointments when I need them, never on a regular basis. After bathing and drying thoroughly I will apply a very thin layer, to keep wetness away from my skin, and to promote healing. You may have to experiment with different ones to find what works best.

Pad size. It's important to use enough protection, but not too much. It is also equally important to position it correctly. Some pads don't have enough adhesive (like the one I use), so I supplement this with a glue stick. The glue is water soluble, and so is removed when my clothing is laundered.

Personally, I usually don't need a thick heavy pad or diapers. But I don't want anything to be visible through my clothing, so I have opted to use a pad which is very thin, but somewhat wide and long. It always extends between my legs, and if I don't position it correctly, part of it extends even further. If I have had a heavy day of leaking and can't change until I get home, it is long enough that it wicks urine under my bottom. I have more chafing in this area than I do my groin, mainly because of the pressure from sitting most of the day.

"Airing things out." Mothers who have babies with diaper rash are sometimes instructed to let the babies lay without diapering, to allow them to dry thoroughly. The same can be applied to us adults. Personally, I don't have to worry too much about wetness at night, so I wear briefs during the day (to keep my pad in place) but wear either boxers or shorts without underpants at night, to allow my groin to dry completely. If I do have chafing to the point that I must use some sort of ointment, I will sometimes sleep with nothing on from the waist down. In this case I sleep on a towel to keep from getting ointment on the sheets. It's also very important to allow enough time after bathing for complete drying. A towel won't usually get this area completely dry. It's important to make sure the diaper area is bone dry before putting on pads, diapers, etc., if you can.

"Grooming." This may sound strange, but I have a tendency to keep the hair "down there" clipped. I don't shave, just clip it fairly close. It helps if you have someone that can do this for you. If, like me, you don't, then just do the best you can.

For those who have had the "pleasure" (NOT!) of knowing my friend Foley, you would understand why I do this. Sometimes the hair gets wrapped around it and, in addition to pulling, (don't mean to be gross) it actually gets drawn into my urinary opening. Needless to say, this is VERY uncomfortable. I started clipping to avoid this. Hair has a tendency to absorb moisture and to wick odor, so accidentally, I found that a side benefit to clipping is a reduction of both of these.

These notes may be "TMI" and if so, I apologize. If not, then hopefully some readers may benefit from some of what I have learned over the past couple of years.