Every Urinary Incontinence (UI) or feminine hygiene product needs at least three major promises:
Comfortable. Discreet. Keeps skin dry.
Dr. Chimelewski, Research and Development Senior Scientist for Attends, was kind enough to explain the critical reasons we need to keep skin dry – and the potential health risks that come from using a subpar product that fails to keep moisture away from the skin.
Particularly with the elderly, or patients in total care who completely rely on their caregivers to maintain daily care tasks, there is an inherent risk that comes with sitting too long in moist conditions.
1. Moisture Damages the Stratum Corneum
Dr. Chimelewski explains, “Humans are basically a big bag of sea water. When our ancestors climbed out of the sea, we had t take the sea with us, and that’s our bodily fluids. The stratum corneum, our outermost layer of skin, is what keeps the water inside us. When that barrier becomes wet, it becomes more permeable. We can measure the rates through which our body fluids come out of our skin through the atmosphere – and we can also see how easily irritants can penetrate the skin. Could be ammonia in urine, bacteria in feces. So our goal as caregivers or health care professionals should be to maintain the natural barrier properties of the skin. Breaking down that barrier with moisture can cause irritation, or even infection.
2. Wet Skin Means Higher Friction
The combination of pressure, friction, and wetness together is all-too-common in caregiving situations—and very risky. Imagine your patient or loved one sitting in a low-quality incontinence brief, laying in bed for hours on top of a warm, moist product. Their skin, already thin from age, is more susceptible to abrasion and wear. They can develop irritation, infections, or pressure injuries – commonly called “bed sores.”
3. Damp, Warm Places Breed Bacteria
Bacteria grows naturally on the surface of wet skin. In fact, we all have natural bacteria on our skin, but without damage, all of our bacteria grows internally--below the stratum cornea. However, if moisture has begun making the stratum cornea permeable, that bacteria can begin to escape and lead to a very serious staph infection.
In general, since bacteria loves warm, dark, moist places, health care professionals and caregivers should strive to keep a dry, clean environment – to minimize the growth and spread of harmful bacteria.
New Technology and Emphasis on Skin Dryness
According to Dr. Chimelewski, new research and clinical experts have recognized the emphasis on dryness, and prioritize it heavily in new technology. For example, rather than simply worrying about creating a super-absorbent core, scientists also utilize a process called “Re-wet.” As the UI pad’s core becomes hydrated, they apply pressure on it to see how much liquid will be expressed. This helps ensure that, just because a product seems to be dry and absorbent, it’s not releasing moisture back out when the wearer, for example, lays down for bed.
“We’re also looking at breathability. A diaper is exclusive,” shares Dr. Chimelewski. “It’s not allowing your skin to breathe, and it’s hydrating your skin. We’re finding new ways to allow breathability, to not allow products to create as much ‘re-wet,’ and to reduce negative effects. Letting consumers feel dry, confident, and clean—as close to underwear as possible—that’s what we’re heading for. We’ll get there.”