Urinary incontinence is most frequently associated with aging. However, while it is more common in older men, younger males may also experience dribbling and leakage for a variety of reasons. This is not only uncomfortable and embarrassing in itself - it can also lead to additional problems like sore penis skin. The right approach to penis care can help to alleviate penile soreness and irritation.

What is urinary incontinence?

Simply put, urinary incontinence is the accidental leakage of urine from the urinary tract, usually as the result of an underlying health issue or injury. Incontinence can be temporary or chronic. Some common types of incontinence include:

- Stress incontinence - when stress on the pelvic floor muscles (from heavy lifting, coughing, sneezing, laughing, etc.) causes a small amount of urine to dribble out.

- Urge incontinence - when the urge to urinate is so strong that it can’t be controlled long enough for men to make it to the bathroom.

- Overflow incontinence - when men are unable to fully empty the bladder, causing urine to back up until it is squeezed out from the pressure.

- Total incontinence - when the urinary sphincter (the muscle that controls the flow) no longer works, and urine leaks out all the time.

What causes it?

Incontinence is often related to prostate issues or to damage to the muscles that are attached to the bladder. Blockages in the urinary track may also cause urinary incontinence, as can infections involving the urinary tract.

Managing incontinence

Most men are able to manage their symptoms through exercise and/or medications. In some cases, surgery may be required to correct the problem. Penile clamps (devices that gently squeeze the penis), pads and penis pouches may be used to prevent leakage onto the clothing. In addition, these lifestyle changes can help:

- Performing kegels - exercises that involve contracting and releasing the pelvic floor muscles;

- Losing weight - to avoid excess strain on the bladder and surrounding muscles;

- Avoiding caffeinated beverages and fizzy sodas, which tend to increase both the urge to urinate and frequency;

- Cutting back on alcohol;

- Stopping smoking - smoking tobacco products can damage the nerves that control the urinary sphincter;

- Using the bathroom several times a day, at the same time every day - this can help keep the bladder empty and thus less likely to leak.

Side effects

Aside from the embarrassment that men may feel about their incontinence, the most common side effect is penile irritation. Men often develop a sore penis when urine is allowed to dry on the skin - or the skin remains damp inside the clothing for extended periods of time. Men who use penile clamps may also develop irritation and chafing if the device is not used properly, such as when tightened too far.

Tips for soothing - and avoiding - sore penis skin

The first line of defense for avoiding a sore, irritated penis caused by the presence of urine on the skin is to wash the area frequently. When drips and spills occur, the penis should be rinsed and dried thoroughly to remove all traces of urine; if washing is not possible, then gently dabbing the area with a soft, damp cloth should be enough until the next shower or bath.

Men who are using pads to catch any leaks should change them whenever they get wet, and damp underwear should be switched for a clean pair. Men who are using penile clamps to cut off leaks should make sure that the device is not too tight, especially in cases where nerve damage makes it difficult to sense when it has been tightened too far.

Finally, creams or lotions can be applied to soothe and protect the skin. Some men prefer ointments or powders made for treating diaper rash, as these create a protective barrier on the skin. Another solution is to invest in a high-quality penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil). A product that is formulated with natural emollients, as well as targeted nutrients for penile care, can soothe the skin, speed healing and protect against chafing - not to mention improve the overall look and feel of the penis.