Incontinence briefs made with spiral-shaped fibers can acidify the skin of older nursing home patients, according to a new study from the University of Minnesota School of Nursing.

Alkaline skin pH increases the risk of developing incontinence-associated skin damage, and leaked urine or feces can make skin more alkaline.

Making skin more acidic could counter those effects.

Donna Bliss, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, and colleagues studied whether specially designed briefs using curly fibers might work for 26 residents at a Midwestern nursing home.

They wet the briefs with an alkaline solution mimicking urine or fecal pH levels and applied the material to residents’ inner thighs and forearms. They measured skin PH afterward and compared the results to tests using industry-standard incontinence briefs.

On thighs, the mean pH was 5.7 after exposure to the wet spiral-shaped fiber brief, versus 6.4 for the wet standard brief. Similar results were seen on the arms.

Bliss said the study suggests curly fibers could help prevent IAD, but she acknowledged further testing is required. Full results appear in September’s Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing