Skincare and Hygiene
There is no simple answer to managing your bowel problems. It is a case of trial and error, finding the right products and aids that can help you live your life.
It is very important to take care of your skin. If you suffer from diarrhoea, faecal or mucus leakage and/or frequent trips to the toilet to empty your bowel; you may get sore skin around your back passage. In some cases, the skin may become so inflamed that it breaks into sores. It is important to take extra care to try and prevent skin irritation and sores.
Skin care tips:
Wash well each day and, if possible, each time you change or have an accident.
Use a mild soap and rinse well. You could use a small mirror to check that you have cleaned the area thoroughly.
There are special no rinse skin cleansing products available that suit some people better than soap. They are also useful when away from the home.
Avoid scented washing products as these could irritate the skin even more. Pat dry with a soft towel and avoid rubbing the skin. A small hairdryer is a good way to dry yourself particularly when at home.
Try not to wear tight fitting clothes. If they are tight, they may rub and cause more soreness. Loose fitting clothes will also help with air circulation and help to prevent sweating. Good hygiene is essential to prevent odour and to maintain healthy skin.
After an accident, you should get to a toilet, change your pads or clothing and wash the area as thoroughly as you can. Any solid matter should be flushed down the toilet. Soiled pads or clothing should be put into an airtight container or sealed bag until they can be washed or disposed of.
When out and about, you can use moist alcohol-free tissues or baby wipes. You may also like to use a barrier product to help protect the skin. These can be obtained by prescription.
If you are suffering from sore skin due to your bowel problems, you might find that damp cotton wool is very gentle for wiping. Try not to scratch the anal area as it may make things worse. It is important to get air to the anal area for some part of the day if possible.
Preventing odours and stains
When you have a bowel problem you may also have problems with wind and stains. These problems can obviously be embarrassing and may result in some people being too frightened to socialise or do normal activities.
Tips to prevent / control odours and stains:
It is useful to gently massage your abdomen to pass wind when you are in the toilet rather than worry about passing wind accidentally.
Some foods can lead to more production of wind than others. It is worth assessing what you eat and noting whether certain food make you more gassy than others. Foods that are likely to increase wind are beans (especially baked, canned and dried), eggs, nuts, bran, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.
Some drinks can lead to more production of wind than others; these can include carbonated drinks including sparkling water, coke, cola and other canned/bottled drinks and excess alcohol, especially beer and lager.
Make sure that you have good ventilation in the rooms that you are in.
Use an air odour control to dispel and disguise smells. Special odour control agents such as 'Nordor S' are available on prescription if normal ones are not effective. Discuss this with your continence advisor or GP.
How to cope when you have an accident
With a bowel problem of any kind, it is likely that you will have an accident or accidents of some sort occasionally. So what should you do if you have an accident?
If you experience an accident in a public place, maybe a friend's house or at the local supermarket; excuse yourself as soon as you can and find the nearest toilet. It is a good idea to take a change of clean clothes with you when you are out visiting etc and also remember a plastic bag to put soiled items into.
You don't have anything to feel ashamed about if you have an accident; unfortunately, it can be part of for the course when you have a bowel problem. Most people will understand if you explain your problem to them. It is important to have an understanding and supportive network behind you so always be honest with family and friends.
If you are concerned about having an accident when you are out and about, B&BF can provide a 'Just Can't Wait' card. This is an emergency card which shows that you have a genuine medical condition that requires urgent use of a toilet. It is also ok for you to use disabled toilets. They have more space for you to change, and often disposal facilities. Some are operated under the National Key Scheme organized by RADAR. A special key can be bought from RADAR.