One of the most common criticisms leveled against wearing and using diapers for pleasure is that it involves sitting around in your own filth. Most people have a visceral reaction against the idea of wetting or messing themselves, and while that is largely a product of upbringing, there are real hygiene implications of diaper-wearing that have to be addressed, especially if you intend to do so regularly for extended periods of time.
Preventing Diaper Rash
While a nicely squishy diaper may be a real pleasure, there is a reason that babies are changed so regularly. The uric acid in urine is a skin irritant. Faeces are packed with urea, in addition to bacteria. The two together form ammonia, which is a serious skin irritant. While the skin of an adolescent or adult is thicker and more resilient than that of an infant, it is still prone to damage if exposed to irritants for too long, so if you wish to avoid a nasty case of diaper rash, or worse, a full-fledged fungal infection, there are certain steps that have to be followed.
First and most obviously, don’t sit around in a wet diaper all day. While adults generally don’t have to change as regularly as infants, that doesn’t mean you should push the envelope. The longer you go without changing, the more time there is for acids and bacteria to work on your skin. Additionally, any kind of moisture can cause skin maceration, and even a dry diaper can chafe. Put all of these things together and you have a recipe for skin damage. So change regularly - this is probably the easiest way to avoid skin damage.
Secondly, wear an appropriately-sized diaper. The most common form of skin damage attributable to diapers is simple friction rash, better known as chafing. If a diaper is too small, or too tightly fitting, it will inevitably chafe. Don’t try and squeeze into a diaper meant for someone much smaller than you and try to avoid over-tightening when taping up, which is a doubly-bad idea as over-tightening is likely to cause the tapes to slip under the strain.
Thridly, use an appropriate barrier. This means baby powder, baby lotion, zinc cream, petroleum gel, or some combination thereof. The idea is to put a barrier between your skin, the diaper, and its eventual contents in order to block moisture, and to provide some degree of lubrication, in order to prevent chafing. When using a barrier, it is necessary to be thorough – it isn’t just the areas immediately around your anus and penis that will be in contact with urine and faeces; your buttocks, upper crotch, and potentially your lower abdomen and lower back can be reached if the diaper wicks well. Be sure to apply a thorough coating of whatever barrier you choose to all skin covered by the absorbent region of the diaper.
Treating Diaper Rash
If you don’t heed the above advice, you are likely to end with a rash. While there are a number of different types of rash, they all display a common, easily-recognisable symptom: a beet-red discolouration of the skin covering part or all of the area covered by the diaper where the outer layer of skin has been damaged. In general, the brighter the redness is, the more severe the rash. Of course, since few people make a habit of looking at their rears in the mirror, you are likely to feel it first – a painful sensation of tingling or soreness in your diaper area, usually most pronounced on your buttocks.
There are a number of approaches to treating diaper rash, depending on how severe it is. The easiest technique is to wash the affected area gently, without soap (soap can wash off the natural oils that protect the skin), pat dry carefully, and then simply leave the rash exposed to fresh air. As wandering around naked isn’t usually a very practical option unless you live alone, your best bet is lightweight, lose-fitting cotton to allow air to circulate around the affected area. Tight-fitting underwear and impermeable fabrics should definitely be avoided.
The second approach is a good-quality rash or skin cream. There are any number of possibilities on the market, from generic zinc-based creams and common remedies like E45 and Sudocrem, to more exotic products like Triple Paste. A really good cream will not only heal a rash with only a few applications, but will also numb the pain at the same time. Your mileage may vary, so you may have to try several, to see what works best for you.
Another possibility is sitting in a baking soda bath – literally, a warm bath with half a cup of baking soda poured in. While this sounds rather weird, it can help with the inflammation and pain caused by diaper rash.
If, after trying everything above, the rash still persists, or worse, it progresses to blisters or yellowish scales/scabs, then regardless of the potential embarrassment, it is time to see your doctor, as you may have a full-fledged fungal/bacterial infection which may take antibiotics to clear up properly. It is worthy bearing in mind that a properly treated diaper rash should be gone within a few days; anything that persists longer than this should be a cause for concern.
This is not, strictly speaking, a hygiene issue, but more one of consideration for others. Urine does not generally have a strong smell, unless it is very concentrated, but faeces do. No-one wants to be forced to smell your bowel movements. Unless you live alone (and really even then), once you start to smell, change. Immediately.
The simplest solution to cleaning yourself up is showering. In all honesty, if you have passed faeces in anything other than the smallest volume, this is really the only solution. Anything else is slow, messy, and unreliable. Showers have the distinct advantage of being easy to clean if anything goes wrong.
Get in the shower, squat down, and remove the diaper. Use wipes to remove any large lumps of faeces that are clinging to your rear, then deposit them in the diaper, roll it up and bag it (see Disposal below).
When you start showering, you need to be scrupulous about washing every part of your diaper area. Ideally, you should take the shower head off the wall and point it upwards between your legs. Otherwise, you may have to adopt the more undignified posture of bending over forward with your rear in the air. Regardless, you need to carefully spray off your diaper area, and then scrub every inch to remove anything that is stubbornly clinging on.
Do not underestimate the places that faeces can end up reaching – every part of you that your diaper covered, from the small of your back, to the underside of your scrotum, to the inside rear of your legs, must be carefully cleaned. Your best bet for scrubbing is disposable wet wipes; using a pouf or flannel is grossly unhygienic, unless you can ensure that it is never, ever used for anything else.
After you have finished removing any traces of remaining faeces, you should carefully go over the same areas with a decent bodywash. Personally, I favour Johnson’s moisturising babywash, but each to their own. All of this may seem a chore, but you don’t want any traces of faeces left on your skin, as such are vectors for a bacterial infection.
If you have only passed urine, then you don’t need to resort to the shower just for a change, though it is never a bad idea. You simply have to ensure that you carefully go over every area that urine may have touched with wet wipes. This includes the small of your back and the upper part of your crotch, since if the diaper has wicked well, those areas will also contain urine.
Used diapers should be disposed of promptly, and in a hygienic fashion. DO NOT just leave them lying around. They will start to smell quite quickly, and will act as a breeding ground for bacteria. Not to mention that, if found, they’ll just confirm the initial reaction of many people that ABDLs are unhygienic freaks.
As soon as you take a diaper off, it should be rolled up and bagged. After you have deposited any clumps of faeces and any used wipes inside it, you should roll it up, starting from the front. If there are tapes which retain any stickiness, you can use them to hold the roll closed.
When that is done, you need to stuff it into an appropriate bag. Ideally, you should use diaper sacks, since they are specifically designed for the purpose, and have a neutralising odour of their own. Most diaper sacks are larger than they need to be. From experience, I can say that with a bit of squashing, most easily available sacks will take a soaked Abena M4, though you may have issues with large sizes, or really thick diapers like the Dry 24/7. If a diaper bag is not available, you may have to a garbage bag.
Regardless of what kind of bag you use, you need to ensure that it is one that can be sealed tightly in order to suppress the smell. Most plastic shopping bags have several small holes punched in the bottom, so they are not really useable for this purpose. If you’re disposing of a diaper that you have passed faeces into, ideally you should double-bag it, just to be certain.
No matter how well you bag your used diapers, you should dispose of them in the garbage promptly – the smell will eventually permeate through the bag, and while it will be suppressed, it will still be quite distinctive and unpleasant.
The underlying principle of diaper hygiene is to be conscientious and thorough. Use a barrier. Don’t sit in a wet or soiled diaper for hours on end. Clean yourself scrupulously when changing, if in doubt, shower. Be sure to dispose of your soiled diapers properly as soon as possible. Adhere to these simple guidelines, and you should not have any issues.