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What is Perineal Care?

Perineal care is a gentle cleansing routine of the genital and anal areas, promoting comfort and preventing infection, especially important for those with limited mobility. It's a practice of dignity and health, often overlooked but vital for well-being. Wondering how to perform perineal care correctly or why it's so crucial? Join us as we explore the steps and significance of this intimate hygiene.
Margo Upson
Margo Upson
Margo Upson
Margo Upson

After the birth of their child, many woman worry about caring for their perineal area while it heals. Childbirth is a very traumatic event for a woman's body, often resulting in reduced strength in pelvic floor muscles, a torn or cut perineum, and even hemorrhoids. Another problem in the perineal area after childbirth is lochia, or the bloody discharge a woman may experience for up to six weeks after the birth of her child. Proper perineal care can make these problems more manageable and help to encourage healing.

Initial perineal care, after the stitches have been put in and the new mother has been cleaned up, is focused on treating the pain and swelling associated with childbirth. Nurses will apply cooling packs to the area, and offer pain relievers if they are necessary. After the swelling has gone down, heat will be applied to the area, to stimulate healing. Sitz baths, using special tubs that fit onto a toilet bowl, allow the woman to easily and comfortably soak in warm water.

Sitz baths with warm water can be used for perineal care.
Sitz baths with warm water can be used for perineal care.

Many hospitals will also provide women with pain relieving sprays that can be applied to painful areas, as well as foams which can prevent itching and swelling if the woman has had an episiotomy. Hemorrhoids may also cause discomfort after childbirth. The best way to treat them is by using witch hazel or medicated pads to relieve burning and itching sensations. Drinking plenty of liquids, eating a lot of fiber-rich foods, or even taking a stool softener can also help.

The witch hazel plant provides the astringent commonly used to cleanse and disinfect skin.
The witch hazel plant provides the astringent commonly used to cleanse and disinfect skin.

One of the most important steps to perineal care is keeping the area clean. Sanitary pads must be changed regularly. After using the bathroom, flush the perineal area with water, and then pat dry, moving from the front to the back to avoid spreading germs from the rectum to the vagina and perineal area. A woman should remember to wash her hands well both before and after using the restroom or changing her sanitary pad.

Part of perineal care is changing sanitary napkins frequently.
Part of perineal care is changing sanitary napkins frequently.

Stitches put into a perineum tear or episiotomy should dissolve within three week. New mothers should continue careful perineal care until they have their first post-birth check-up with their doctor. Lotions, sprays, and powders should not be used on the perineum, and tampon or douche use should be avoided until they have been approved by a woman's doctor.

In women, the perineum is located between the anus and vagina.
In women, the perineum is located between the anus and vagina.

Proper perineal care is necessary for healing. It is important that a woman understands how to correctly care for her perineum after childbirth before leaving the hospital. Most hospitals will provide all of the information and tools that a woman will need, but if a woman has any more questions, she should ask her doctors or the nurses taking care of her.

Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Margo has a varied academic background, which has involved everything from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education. These wide-ranging interests make her an ideal TheHealthBoard writer, as she always enjoys becoming an expert on new and unfamiliar topics.

Learn more...
Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Margo has a varied academic background, which has involved everything from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education. These wide-ranging interests make her an ideal TheHealthBoard writer, as she always enjoys becoming an expert on new and unfamiliar topics.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

FernValley

The concept of damaging perineal skin is one of the many things about childbirth that terrifies me. I suppose it's at least comforting that there are ways to prevent it and care for the area if damage occurs.

GreenWeaver

I know that vaginal childbirth does cause perineal lacerations because the force exerted in the pushing phase of delivery sometimes causes some tearing.

A doctor will sometimes do an episiotomy in order to create an opening in the perineal area so that the delivery will be smoother.

Most nurses will give you a perineal wash solution to use when you use the restroom. They also recommend Tucks because it can sanitize and clean the affected area. It takes time to get used to but after a couple of weeks you should be okay.

It is important to gently pat the area down when using the restroom so that you do not cause more harm.

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    • Sitz baths with warm water can be used for perineal care.
      By: fotoschab
      Sitz baths with warm water can be used for perineal care.
    • The witch hazel plant provides the astringent commonly used to cleanse and disinfect skin.
      By: dianamower
      The witch hazel plant provides the astringent commonly used to cleanse and disinfect skin.
    • Part of perineal care is changing sanitary napkins frequently.
      By: lukasmajercik
      Part of perineal care is changing sanitary napkins frequently.
    • In women, the perineum is located between the anus and vagina.
      By: isyste
      In women, the perineum is located between the anus and vagina.