What are Perineal Cleansers?

Kiera Powell, R.N.

Verified by Kiera Powell, R.N. and written by Chad Birt on Tue Aug 17 2021.

Medically Verified

What are Perineal Cleansers?

Incontinence care requires more than routine changes, accident prevention, and emotional support. If your loved one needs toilet assistance or they wear pull-ups, diapers, or adult briefs, it’s crucial that the skin around their genitals and perineum remains clean and dry. Perineal cleansers are formulated specifically for this purpose. But what are perineal cleansers? And, what should you look for when selecting one?

What is a perineal skin cleanser?

Perineal skin cleansers are specially formulated products that keep the soft, sensitive skin on the perineum (the area between the anus and genitals) clean and free of microorganisms. They eliminate urine and fecal matter, as well as the buildup of fungi, bacteria, and smegma, a gelatinous combination of oil and dead skin cells that collects beneath moist folds of skin.

Perineal cleansers are gentle and effective. Their antiseptic properties reduce the risk of diaper rash, incontinence-associated dermatitis, and other potentially serious health problems.

What are perineal cleansers used for?

Perineal cleansers minimize the uncomfortable side-effects of incontinence-associated dermatitis (IAD). IAD occurs when the skin’s protective barrier is damaged, resulting in redness, chafing, and irritation. 

Perineal cleansers can treat all types of IAD, including:

  • Perineal dermatitis

  • Irritant dermatitis

  • Moisture lesions

  • Diaper rash

How do perineal cleansers work?

Perineal cleansers contain medical-grade antiseptics that are safe on the skin and capable of eliminating harmful microorganisms. They’re gentler than traditional soaps and formulated for use on the most sensitive areas of your body. 

Many perineal cleansers come in a foam spray. This prevents leaks and dripping, allowing for quick, mess-free toilet trips and diaper changes.

What are the symptoms of incontinence-associated dermatitis (IAD)?

Healthy skin provides a protective barrier that shields your internal organs and bodily systems from trauma as well as potentially harmful invaders. IAD can erode this line of defense, resulting in a variety of uncomfortable symptoms like red, itchy, or burning skin; inflamed, peeling skin; or infection.

Where does IAD occur?

IAD develops on areas of the skin exposed to urine, fecal matter, and the associated fumes. Often, it occurs on the:

  • Perineum (the area of skin between the anus and scrotum or anus and vagina)

  • Labial folds (in women)

  • Groin (in men)

  • Buttocks

  • Upper thighs

Some people also develop symptoms of incontinence-associated dermatitis on their lower abdomen.

Do I need any special supplies to apply a perineal cleanser?

Applying a perineal cleanser doesn’t require any special tools. If you want to make clean up a little easier, we recommend having the following items on hand:

How do I apply a perineal cleanser?

Applying a perineal cleanser is a relatively easy process. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Wash your hands thoroughly with warm soap and water before putting on gloves.

Step 2: Ask your loved one to spread their legs. If they’re unable to do this on their own, gently assist them, making sure to cover their privates to help them feel more comfortable.

Step 3: Carefully remove your loved one’s underwear, diaper, pull-ups, or adult briefs.

Step 4: Use warm water and adult wipes to clean the perineal area, as well as the groin, thighs, and genitals. Keep extra wipes on hand, in case you need several. Helpful hint: When cleaning very messy or loose stools, it’s best to use a towel as an absorbent layer first, then use a wet wipe that is infused with cleaner, and finally, use a wipe that has water added to it. 

Step 5: After cleaning the perineal area, dry up any excess moisture with a clean towel. If moisture is left behind, it can increase the risk of chafing and pressure sores. 

Step 6. Spray the perineal cleanser on a clean, wet washcloth. Then, run the washcloth across your loved one’s skin, covering all areas that came into contact with urine or feces. Blot up any excess moisture and apply a clean diaper or underwear.

Step 7: If bedding or underpads get dirty during the perineal cleansing process, collect and throw them in the laundry. 

If you learn better by example, check out this quick video:

Where can I buy perineal skin cleansers?

You can buy perineal skin cleansers at most grocery stores and pharmacies. We also carry a perineal and skin cleanser here on the Carewell website manufactured by McKesson. 

McKesson Perineal and Skin Cleanser

This skin cleanser from McKesson features a no-rinse formula that moisturizes and deodorizes the sensitive skin of the perineal area. It comes in two sizes—an 8 oz. pump bottle or a one-gallon jug. 

The solution is pH balanced to be non-irritating and gentle on all parts of the body. It contains aloe vera and vitamin A, C, and E moisturizers to cleanse the skin and prevent dryness.

Key benefits & features:

  • Gentle, fresh scent

  • Emulsifies feces and cleans up urine

  • Significantly reduces the risk of incontinence associated dermatitis

  • Single-step, rinse-free formula

We hope you’ve found the content of this article helpful. If you have any questions about perineal cleansers or need help selecting a product that meets your loved one’s needs, reach out to our friendly Care Team today. Call (800) 696-CARE or send an email to support@carewell.com. We’re incredibly passionate about helping caregivers (like you) succeed!

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.