The author presents risk factors for perineal dermatitis in critical care patients and discusses findings from a performance improvement project using an intervention protocol for hospitalized patients in the ICU.

Perineal dermatitis is an inflammatory condition of the skin in the perineal area, upper part of the thigh, and buttocks that is commonly associated with incontinence. It is manifested by various degrees of skin injury, ranging from redness to areas of denuded skin. It may be asymptomatic or may be accompanied by itching or pain.1 

Normal skin maintains its barrier function by means of an intact epithelium created by the individual skin cells. The normal pH of the skin varies from person to person, but in the normal state, the skin is acidic with a mean pH of 5.5 to 5.9. Changes in the external pH of the skin affect the fatty acid content of the skin and impair...

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