Incontinence-associated dermatitis (IAD) is a common problem in elderly incontinent people. A comparative cross-sectional study was conducted to examine and compare properties of intact skin on the buttocks and subumbilicus area in elderly people wearing absorbent products and to identify pad environment factors that affect skin properties. Study participants included 45 elderly (age range: 68 to 103 years) female residents of one nursing home who were incontinent of feces and urine (dual incontinence group--DIG, n = 35) or feces only (fecal incontinence group--FIG, n= 10). Skin pH and hydration were measured and factors believed to affect the perineal environment and contribute to the development of IAD were assessed. In both DIG and FIG, skin hydration levels and pH were higher in the coccygeal than in the subumbilical area. Skin hydration of the sacral region in the DIG was significantly higher than in the FIG (P = 0.019) and skin pH on the coccygeal region and sacral region in the DIG was significantly higher than in the FIG (coccygeal region, P = 0.013; sacral region, P = 0.023). Absorbent pad surface pH (P &0.01) and excessive sweating (P = 0.006) were significantly related to skin pH. Results show that properties of perineal skin in elderly women with incontinence are affected by occlusion with pads, increasing the risk of IAD. Studies comparing the effect of various types of pads and pad-change frequencies on skin properties are needed.