Prevention and treatment of incontinence-associated dermatitis: literature review

J Adv Nurs. 2009 Jun;65(6):1141-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2009.04986.x. Epub 2009 Apr 3.


Aim: This paper is a report of a review conducted to describe the current evidence about the prevention and treatment of incontinence-associated dermatitis and to formulate recommendations for clinical practice and research.

Background: Incontinence-associated dermatitis is a common problem in patients with incontinence. It is a daily challenge for healthcare professionals to maintain a healthy skin in patients with incontinence.

Data sources: PubMed, Cochrane, Embase, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, reference lists and conference proceedings were explored up to September 2008.

Review methods: Publications were included if they reported research on the prevention and treatment of incontinence-associated dermatitis. As little consensus about terminology was found, a very sensitive filter was developed. Study design was not used as a selection criterion due to the explorative character of the review and the scarce literature.

Results: Thirty-six publications, dealing with 25 different studies, were included. The implementation of a structured perineal skin care programme including skin cleansing and the use of a moisturizer is suggested. A skin protectant is recommended for patients considered at risk of incontinence-associated dermatitis development. Perineal skin cleansers are preferable to using water and soap. Skin care is suggested after each incontinence episode, particularly if faeces are present. The quality of methods in the included studies was low.

Conclusions: Incontinence-associated dermatitis can be prevented and healed with timely and appropriate skin cleansing and skin protection. Prevention and treatment should also focus on a proper use of incontinence containment materials. Further research is required to evaluate the efficacy and effectiveness of various interventions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Diaper Rash / etiology
  • Diaper Rash / therapy*
  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes
  • Evidence-Based Nursing
  • Fecal Incontinence / complications*
  • Humans
  • Incontinence Pads
  • Perineum
  • Petrolatum
  • Pressure Ulcer / prevention & control
  • Skin Care / economics
  • Skin Care / methods*
  • Skin Care / nursing
  • Soaps / adverse effects
  • Urinary Incontinence / complications*
  • Zinc Oxide


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes
  • Soaps
  • Petrolatum
  • dimethicone
  • Zinc Oxide