There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the perineal area of your body. It’s not something that is talked about much, but proper perineal hygiene is important to help maintain an older adult’s overall good health. Here is what you should know.
What is the Perineal Area?
The perineal region is a diamond shaped area that is found between the tail bone and the pubic arch. In women this is the area between the anus and vulva. In men it is the area between the scrotum and anus.
What is Perineal Care?
Perineal care is needed mostly for those who are bedridden and dealing with incontinence, or who have an indwelling catheter. It is important to wash this area properly as doing so allows you to deter the breakdown of sensitive skin. In addition, your loved one will be able to avoid itching, odor, burning, and infections.
How Should the Perineal Area be Washed?
There are several steps to proper perineal care for elderly adults.
- Be sure to wash and dry your hands first before you start. This is true if you are cleaning yourself or if you are doing this as a caregiver.
- You’ll need to spread the legs to reach this area. Use a soft washcloth to clean the area from the front to the back. This is especially important when dealing with women as it lessens the chance of infection. It may take more than one washcloth, and be sure to use a new one if soiled.
- For females, a downward motion should be used to clean the area, while it is best to use a circular motion and go from the top to the bottom for males.
- If bedridden, be sure to put new sheets on the bed after you have finished washing.
- The purpose of perineal care is to not only clean the area but to also check for infections or lesions in the area. As this is something you may be doing often, it should be easy to spot changes in appearance that might need to be checked by a doctor.
- Once you have finished, be sure to wash your hands with hot water and soap.
Keep in mind that your loved one may find someone besides themselves cleaning this area embarrassing. Be sure to have a conversation with them beforehand to explain why it needs to be done and what they can expect. Get their input on the subject and listen to their fears or concerns, and determine with them, what they can and cannot do on their own. The conversation may be uncomfortable at first, but it’s necessary to ensure overall health and hygiene.
The Importance of Perineal Care
Perineal care is important, but so is your loved one’s dignity. Understanding the process, and why it is necessary, will go a long way to making the whole procedure less stressful. With a little conversation, and maybe a little humor to lighten the mood, you can help keep your loved one properly taken care of, comfortable, and healthy.