Keeping Your Cool (and Protecting Your Skin) All Summer Long
The warm months have arrived in most places across the country, and for those of us who need more serious incontinence protection, that poses challenges most people wouldn’t understand. If you’ve ever worn an adult diaper outside on a 90-plus-degree day, you know what I’m talking about. It’s hot, uncomfortable, can cause all kinds of mischief for your skin … and the smell isn't all roses either.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that NorthShore—or any other company—has products that will keep you cool and fresh all summer long. Unfortunately, absorbent material with a waterproof barrier will hold in heat really well. But I can say that there are things you can do to help keep your cool, and products that will keep you more comfortable while still giving you the protection you need.
Clean: Before every change, it’s important that you clean yourself as much as possible. Bacteria that can damage your skin doesn’t care about your modesty, so don’t be shy about folds, labia or foreskin—get in there! You can use whatever works best for you, but I wouldn’t be much of a partner if I didn’t mention that I really like (and yes, use) the NorthShore Supreme Quilted Wipes.
Protect: I confess that I don’t always use a barrier and have been very lucky when it comes to rashes and skin breakdowns, but we’re all different. Even I, however, will use a barrier ointment, cream, or powder if I know I’m going to be in a hot environment. If I don’t—and I have failed to do so a time or two—I know I’ll pay for it later in the form of a rash or sore.
Reduce your protection (a bit) – My protection of choice is usually a diaper, also called a tab-style brief, and the NorthShore Supreme in particular. Each one gives me peace of mind for hours, so I can work or relax without worry (sorry for the commercial). But diapers cover your “bikini zone” completely, front to back and around the sides, which traps heat. If I’m going to be in hot environment, inside or out, I typically opt for a NorthShore DynaDry Supreme liner, which fits inside your snug-fitting underwear and is open on the sides. That means they don’t trap heat nearly as much as a diaper would.
Yes, I need to change more often, but they hold a surprising amount and offer coverage wide enough (I wear the XL or 2XL with the larger end up front but women won’t) to catch leaks whether I’m standing, sitting or lounging. Stay hydrated – I know, I know. Controlling your fluid intake can reduce changes and accidents, but ESPECIALLY on a hot day, staying hydrated will (a) keep your body and kidneys happy (b) reduce irritation in your urinary system (I’m prone to that), (c) reduce that musty urine smell, and (d) greatly reduce irritation on your skin as the urine begins to break down. Drink. Your. Water.
Give your skin a breather – Every so often, your skin just needs a chance to catch its breath, air out and throw off some of that excess moisture. Every so often, wear a pad instead of a diaper, liner or absorbent underwear. Just for a little while. Your skin will thank you.
I mentioned this in a previous article about controlling odors, but it bears mentioning here too. Absorbent products kept outside or in the garage in July may not smell great come trash day. If you can keep them inside your home, or a basement that stays pretty cool, store used products there until trash day during the hot months. You may also want to consider using disposal bags that are discreet and scented.
We all deserve to get outside and have a little fun. That is more challenging with incontinence, sure, but don’t let that stop you. Plan ahead, find the right level of protection that lasts long enough but lets your skin breathe.
Some years ago (I decline to say how many), life threw me a curveball and I found myself facing some new and frightening challenges, and having to navigate the confusing world of incontinence products alone. This was pre-internet and, frankly, pre-decent options. Through constant experimentation, I’ve found products that work for me—yes, many of which are sold by NorthShore Care—but the more important part of my journey has been internal. I’ve fought insecurity, isolation, paranoia that EVERYONE was staring at my butt, and fear that I’d never be able to return to the rich, full life I once had. I’m happy to say all of that was unfounded.
Part of the work I did to understand and accept myself included reading. A LOT of reading. I found articles that explained the different kinds of incontinence, blog posts about the various products that were available, and even pamphlets for drugs that offered to solve my problem. What I couldn’t find was practical guidance on and honest thoughts about living with this embarrassing, confusing, and occasionally hilarious new “feature” my body had to offer.
NorthShore gets it, and that’s why I’m here. NorthShore isn’t just a business that sells incontinence supplies, it’s a business built on a foundation of understanding of what you and I are dealing with every day.
I don’t work for NorthShore (would it be too cheesy to say I work for you?) but this feels like the right place for a blog that addresses real-world issues around incontinence. Here I’ll talk candidly, openly, and occasionally uncomfortably about the challenges we face, the products that can help us manage those challenges, and how to go about confidently getting on with our lives.
Let’s get real.