What You Need to Know About Incontinence-Associated Dermatitis After Prostate Surgery
Many men who have prostate surgery will experience unwanted urine leaking at some point, called incontinence.1 When urine or feces are in contact with the skin for too long they can irritate the skin and may cause incontinence-associated dermatitis (IAD).2
Incontinence after prostate treatment
Surgery (radical prostatectomy) is a common form of treatment for prostate cancer and is sometimes combined with radiation.3 During the surgery, some of the tissue around the prostate is removed.1,3 This tissue usually includes the “bladder neck”, which controls bladder emptying. Because of this, it can be hard to control the bladder after prostate surgery. The lack of bladder control can make it hard to get to the toilet in time, or urine might leak when sneezing or lifting something.1Radiation therapy after surgery can also cause incontinence or make it worse.1
Fortunately, incontinence after prostate surgery is usually temporary. It often takes a few months for incontinence to improve. For some men, it may take up to a year.1
How are IAD and prostate cancer surgery related?
Most men who have surgery for prostate cancer get some form of incontinence. This means they have a higher risk of getting IAD.1,2
IAD is a condition that happens when urine and/or feces irritate the skin. When urine leaks onto clothing or absorbent pads it can get trapped close to the skin. When then urine is left there too long, the moisture and chemicals in the urine damage the skin. Wearing pads to absorb the urine or clothes that are damp with urine can rub against the skin and cause more irritation.2
What are the symptoms of IAD?
Mild cases of IAD can appear as red or swollen areas around the groin, buttocks, and thighs, especially in folds of skin. There can also be pain, burning, or itching. More severe cases can have sores or open wounds.2
Older age and other health conditions like diabetes can make it easier to get IAD or can make IAD worse.2
What to do if you have IAD
Since moisture is a main trigger for IAD it is important to keep the skin clean and dry. The steps below are some ways to prevent and treat IAD:2
- Clean the irritated area gently with water and mild cleanser
- Avoid using regular soaps as they can make the irritation worse
- Don’t rub or scratch the skin
- Carefully dry the skin after washing
- Apply a thin layer of moisturizing cream to dry skin. Zinc oxide creams may be helpful for more severe rashes
- Consult a doctor if the irritation gets worse or does not go away
Another way to help prevent IAD is to improve bladder control so there is less urine leaking. Pelvic floor or Kegel exercises can help regain bladder control. The exercises consist of a series of muscle contractions that can strengthen the muscles around the bladder.1
Caffeine, alcohol, sugary drinks, and acidic foods can irritate the bladder and make incontinence worse. Limiting these items can make it easier to control incontinence.1
When to see a doctor
IAD can increase the risk of getting an infection so it is important to talk to a doctor if you have symptoms. There are many topical treatments for IAD. There are also treatments for incontinence that can reduce the risk of getting IAD.1,2
Have you made personal connections through your journey with prostate cancer?