Urinary incontinence is a condition that results in the involuntary loss of urine. It is a condition that affects millions of American men and women. As we age, our body undergoes many changes. Some of these changes involve the urinary tract and may lead to incontinence as men and women get older.
Both men and women may develop urinary incontinence, but several actions exist that women, specifically, can take to decrease or even limit involuntary release of urine.
The skin around the outside of the vagina in women is called the vulva. This area includes the skin around the urethra and the vaginal lips, or labia. Frequently, in incontinent women, this area is red, raw, and sore from urine irritating the skin. These tips may help make women more comfortable and avoid irritation of the bladder, urethra, and surrounding skin.
Women who are incontinent should avoid synthetic or nylon underwear or synthetic pantyhose. Instead, use full underwear made of cotton, also avoiding thongs and g-strings. In addition, women may find that washing underwear in pure soap or soap flakes, instead of harsh detergents, may reduce irritation to the vulva. Also, women should not wash the vulvar area no more than twice a day, using only plain water or mild soap.
Although bath oils, bubble baths, and bath salts feel nice, women with incontinence should avoid them. The ingredients in relaxation baths can be very irritating to the already sensitive skin of the vulva. Vaginal deodorants or douches should be avoided. And tampons should not be used as they may irritate the bladder and urethra.
After bathing, gently dry the vulvar area with a towel. Women may use a hair dryer on cool or low setting to dry the area completely. If a powder is necessary, use corn starch and not talcum powder.
Finally, drink plenty of pure water. Avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and cola. Alcohol should also be avoided, especially excessive amounts of alcohol, as it also irritates the bladder and urethra.
Urinary incontinence can be helped and in many cases may be cured with proper treatment. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of urinary incontinence, contact your physician to discuss treatment options.