Incontinence-associated dermatitis (IAD) due to the prolonged exposure of the skin to urinary, fecal, or double incontinence represents a major clinical practice challenge. The aim of this review was to identify and critically appraise the results of published studies on the etiology and pathophysiology of IAD and highlight the current gaps in empirical evidence.
Scoping literature review.
The electronic databases PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, MEDLINE, and Embase were searched for relevant articles published from 1996 to April 2018. Thirteen studies and review articles related to the etiology and pathophysiology of IAD were identified in our initial review, and 3 studies published subsequent to our initial review were evaluated and included in our final review.
These studies suggest that several etiologic factors contribute to the development of IAD including exposure to urine, stool, or a combination of these substances (dual incontinence), the duration and frequency of exposure, frequent cleaning, and inflammatory responses. Results from the current scoping review showed that despite the increasing interest in IAD, evidence related to the underlying mechanisms causing IAD remains sparse. This paucity represents a clear gap in knowledge and indicates a need for additional research.
Future studies should aim at elucidating: (1) the role of urine and its inherent pH on skin integrity, (2) the role of stool, specific digestive enzymes, and fecal bacteria on skin integrity, (3) the permeability and susceptibility of the skin to damage following frequent cleansing activities and occlusion, and (4) the specific inflammatory response triggered following exposure to urine and fecal matter.