Learning About Preventing Rashes in the Groin Area in Women

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Rash areas around the anus and vulva, and the inside of the legs where the legs join the body

How do rashes form?

The groin area needs careful cleaning to prevent rashes and infections. Rashes are most likely to form in moist areas where skin touches skin, such as the folds of the groin and on the chest and stomach. For a larger-sized person, other areas of concern are the folds on the neck, arms, inner elbows, legs, behind the knees, and between the toes. Daily cleaning can help prevent these problems.

If you are helping someone with their daily cleaning, try to be relaxed. Helping someone clean their groin area can be embarrassing for both of you. If you are calm and don't seem embarrassed, the person may feel more comfortable.

How can you help prevent rashes?

Rashes in the groin and anal areas can be caused by several things. A yeast or bacterial infection can cause a rash. So can irritation from problems with bladder or bowel control. Protective underwear also can cause rashes or irritate the skin. Or a person may be allergic to the scents in the material.

People who have certain health problems, such as diabetes, may be at extra risk for infections because of a weakened ability to fight infections.

To help prevent rashes:

  • Change protective underwear as soon as possible after it is soiled or wet.
  • Let the skin air-dry for 5 to 10 minutes before putting on a new pair of briefs. (But keep the person covered to help them feel more comfortable.)
  • Clean the area daily, and check for rashes so that you can treat them as soon as they happen.

How do you treat rashes?

Treatment at home often helps rashes go away. If the person you are caring for develops a rash in the groin area, here are some things you can do to help treat it:

  • Keep the skin dry.
  • Check the briefs every 3 hours. Change if needed.
  • Gently wash the groin and anal areas with warm water and a soft washcloth. Rinse well and dry completely.
  • Use a blow-dryer on a warm setting to get the area fully dry.
  • If the person has had diarrhea, apply an ointment such as A+D Ointment, Desitin, Diaparene, or zinc oxide.
  • Give more fluids to make the urine less concentrated. (Make sure the person doesn't need to limit fluids for a medical reason.)
  • Call the person's doctor if the rash doesn't get better or if signs of infection develop (such as increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness).

How do you clean the groin area?

Allow the person to do as much of the cleaning as possible, and give her privacy if she is safe to be alone. In some cases, you will need to do the bathing.

When you are cleaning someone's groin area, explain what you are doing. Let the person know that you're making sure she doesn't have rashes. And only uncover the area that you're cleaning. This may help her feel more comfortable.

Wash and dry your hands well before you begin. You don't have to wear gloves, but it might be a good idea if the person has had diarrhea. And it's a good idea to wear a mask if you or the person has an illness that can spread, such as a cold or the flu.

To clean the groin area:

  • Give the person a washcloth with soap on it for cleaning. Offer another warm, damp washcloth for rinsing.
  • If you are doing the washing, be gentle. Don't rub the skin.
  • Separate the labia and clean gently with the washcloth in one swipe from front to back.
  • Turn the washcloth to use a new part of it, and clean in the same motion until the area is clean. Pat dry.
  • Ask the person to turn on her side, or help turn her. Clean the anal area from front to back. Pat dry.
  • Don't use moisturizers in these areas where skin touches skin.

Special concerns if the person has dementia

A person who has dementia may become confused or forget how to clean without help. In a calming voice, explain one step at a time what to do. A person who has more advanced dementia will need you to do the cleaning. Explain what you are doing.

In some cases, the person may be upset or try to fight you. Don't force them to clean. Try again at another time. Pick a time when they are the most rested and calm.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.