Perineal care for elderly adults: Here’s what you should know
What is perineal care?
And why should you care about it as a caregiver?
In today’s post, I will share why perineal care for elderly adults is important and how to perform this care as a caregiver.
What is perineal care?
The perineal area or the perineum is the area of the body that surrounds a person’s genitals and anal area.
It is an area that is in the rough shape of a diamond.
Perineal care therefore refers to the care and cleaning of the area especially in people who are unable to do it for themselves.
If you have a loved one who is bedridden and or unable to perform most of their own daily care activities, perineal care is essential for them.
Why perineal care?
- The genitals and anal area are both prone to infections mainly because this is where waste – feces and urine- pass through.
- For a person who has an indwelling catheter, proper perineal care reduces the risk for infection.
- Perineal care also protects the skin around the genitals and anus from breaking down. For bedridden loved ones, the risk of bed sores is high. Proper perineal care helps to keep that at bay.
- Cleaning the perineum helps to keep your loved one comfortable.
- For a person who is bedridden and who is unable to clean their own perineum, proper perineal care represents an opportunity for them to maintain their dignity.
How to perform perineal care
You can perform perineal care as a separate event or during bath time.
Prepare your cleaning materials. You will need:
- 1-2 washcloths (take more if you need it)
- A container with warm water
- Peri-wash products – We recommend this product called Sensi Care. We like that it is unscented and good for sensitive skin. This product from Aloe Vesta is a popular, quality line. We like that this product is rinse free and a foaming blend. Soaps can dry out fragile skin. Peri wash products are recommended for each changing. PeriGiene offers an antimicrobial peri wash for those prone to urinary tract infections or pressure ulcers.
How to perform perineal care
- Make sure to wash your hands first before you start providing perineal care.
- Wipe your hands and wear gloves.
- Provide your loved one with privacy during this time.
- Explain to them you will be cleaning their perineum. If this is the first time you’re doing this, have the conversation and make sure they understand what will happen during this time. Understand that this may be embarrassing for them so make it as comfortable as possible.
- Wet washcloth with cleaning solution that is a comfortable temperature.
- For a woman, wipe from the front of the vagina and back towards the anus. This prevents carryover of feces into the vaginal area.
- For a man, wipe from the scrotum towards the anus. With men, you may need to lift up the penis and the skin around the scrotum to get a proper clean.
- Use a second wet wash cloth if you need to.
- Use a dry washcloth to wipe the area of excess moisture.
- If their sheets need to be changed, this is the best time to change the sheets, so you don’t have to bother them for a while.
- Make sure to wash your own hands after you are done with the cleaning.
Dressing after perineal care
Make sure the area is thoroughly dry before putting undergarments back on. Make sure to use gentle motions and do not get abrasive while drying.
If your loved one wears cloth under garments, we recommend cotton products for breathability. Make sure these garments remain clean and use gentle cleaners to avoid irritating sensitive skin.
Protective underwear or adult diapers offer a disposable option for dressing between peri care sessions.
All products are not created equally and choosing the right disposable briefs helps control UTIs and skin breakdown.
Never double up on disposable adult diapers. We do not recommend using a diaper with a pad inserted. This can cause too much moisture to build up and encourage urinary tract infections, pressure ulcers, and yeast problems.
We like this pull-on brief from TENA because it offers great absorbency while keeping the skin dry. This pull-on brief from Tranquility is for heavy or overnight use. We like it because it absorbs so fast. There is also a tab version of the Tranquility brief that offers the same protection and absorbency.
Our friend Angel did a video showing exactly why the tranquility product is an exceptional choice for overnight use.
After perineal care
It is important to make sure you respect the dignity of your the person.
Pay attention to them if they mention that something hurts and make sure you are performing care in the most comfortable way possible for them.
Full disclosure: We do make money when you click on the product links. First, we appreciate your support and are confident you will love our partners. Second, Angel is a real person who owns a San Diego based incontinence company called Dependable Daughter.
She will answer the phone personally to make sure you get the right product for your needs! We rarely offer links in our articles, but we think this connection is important!
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February 19, 2021 at 11:53 am
I have a question regarding how to handle a combative dementia patient. My husband and I care for my 51 year old daughter. She is in her 5th year of dementia. She hates bath time and getting re-diapered. She is also getting more and more agitated in general. We have zero outside help as she has no insurance and so far has been denied any government assistance.
My concerns are for her safety as well as mine… she hits and trys to bite … she poops when she gets excited and angry which is a problem when I have to put the clean diaper on her. It takes 2 people to get her bathed and dressed and her diaper is soiled by the time I get her “anti-strip pj’s “ on her!…
she does have a doctor the the free clinic at the county hospital system… but I have to figure out a lot of this on my own… should I ask for a mild sedative to use for her bath time… we try to bathe her 2X a day.
March 12, 2021 at 4:19 am
Thanks for this article as it was very informative. Although I am not a caregiver, I am disabled and an very glad that you provided this information.
March 16, 2021 at 3:28 pm
I am 77 years old and sometimes my perineal feels dry. Uncomfortable. I shower and gently wash my perineal every day. I use vasaline, is there a better ointment?
April 6, 2021 at 10:44 am
I found your question so important, I felt other people might want to hear the response as well. I created a post to answer your question. You can find it here!
April 6, 2021 at 10:46 am
Thank you for reading Danielle! I send good thoughts your way!
April 6, 2021 at 10:51 am
I am not a medical professional, so I can’t speak to what is best for your skin. I would certainly ask your doctor. I also have a good friend who works with people who are incontenent. So, she is one of the smartest people I know when it comes to perineal care. You can reach out to her via her website. If you call the number on the website, I believe you will get her directly! Her name is Angel.