HOW TO USE INCONTINENCE UNDERPADS
What exactly are underpads?
Also referred to as bed pads or chux, underpads are absorbent sheets used on furniture, beds, automobile seats or anywhere an added layer of protection is necessary. Available in a variety of sizes and in both reusable and disposable forms, bed pads are a staple of incontinence care in home settings, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. Underpads are also used for a variety of other medical and non-medical purposes ostomy pouch care, feeding tube changes, and wound management to pet training, youth toilet training, and even for home crafting.
The History of 'Chux'
Chux pads were one of the original brands of incontinence underpads; and much like Xerox is to photocopying or Kleenex is to tissue, 'Chux' became a part of English vernacular in reference to disposable bed pads. The original 'chux' pad was an invention of necessity whereby nurses in care facilities fashioned cheap fabric around newspaper to lessen the frequency of remaking soiled patient beds. It is believed that the name came from the pad's disposable nature - the newspaper was simply 'chucked' when wet.
COMMON UNDERPAD FEATURES
Reusable or Disposable
Absorbent Core Materials
Disposable underpads consist of an absorbing polymer that turns liquid into an odor-retaining gel. Reusable bed pads use quilted rayon or poly-rayon fabric. Fabric cores are economically and ecologically friendly, however, the moisture-wicking properties of disposable pads are superior.
Underpad sizing varies from manufacturer to manufacturer but generally range from 17 x 24 inches up to 40 by 57 inches. Larger bed pads are used for mattress coverage and smaller pads are most effective on chairs and other furniture. Multiple pads can be used for full coverage.
Several forms of underpads are available to accommodate special requirements for bedridden or physically inactive individuals as well as those who use low-air loss mattresses or airflow therapy beds. Airflow underpads and air-permeable bed pads are designed to minimize heat and moisture build-up.
Some incontinence underpads not only protect surfaces but also act as a multipurpose patient positioning sheet. Usually of the reusable variety, these bed pads come in a variety of strengths accommodating patients up to approximately 400 pounds and often include handles for easy gripping.
PROTECTING A BED FROM INCONTINENCE OVERFLOW
Dressing a bed for incontinence will depend on the patient’s absorbency needs and incontinence level.
- Begin with a waterproof mattress cover directly on top of your mattress or over your existing fabric mattress pad for added comfort.
- Add bed pads as follows: 1 to 3 for light or moderate incontinence and 3 or more in an overlapped fashion for heavier incontinence.
- Cover all layers with standard fitted bed sheets. For those suffering from heavy incontinence or for those who do not wish to experience moisture on the sheets, add another layer of bed pads on top of the standard sheet.
My bed pad keeps slipping out of place.
If your bed pad keeps slipping off, securing it in place by putting it underneath the fitted sheet can help. You can also use a zippered fitted sheet to prevent the bed pad from moving around or try bed pads with adhesive strips.
The underpad is making my bed too warm.
If you find your bed pad makes your bed feel too warm and uncomfortable, you should try using a breathable bed pad. These moisture-wicking bed pads are extremely helpful in regulating the temperature in your bed by utilizing airflow to prevent the accumulation of heat and sweat.
The bed pad is noisy or uncomfortable.
Bed pads with a plastic layer can make a squeaking noise. If you find this uncomfortable to sleep through, try a bed pad with a soft top sheet. The soft layer on top will feel much more comfortable and it will not make any noise as you move around.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I use incontinence bed pads?
Incontinence mattress pads are useful as an extra layer of protection to prevent urine or fecal matter from reaching bedding. There are several types of bed pads for incontinence. Absorbent bed pads can be spread atop bedding to protect both the sheets and the mattress. Incontinence bed sheets are another product useful to protect mattresses that are not waterproof.
Alternatively, waterproof mattress covers and bed pads are designed to be placed on the mattress directly. They work by preventing moisture from seeping through to the mattress itself. Instead of needing to deep clean the mattress, waterproof mattress covers can be wiped clean and sanitized.
How do I wash and dry incontinence bed pads?
Disposable bed pads are popular because there is no need to launder them. However, reusable underpads can save money. Washing reusable underpads is usually no more difficult than your average load of laundry. You may not want to wash them with the rest of the household’s laundry, however. Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions for detergent, wash and dry cycles, and fabric softener.
Also be aware that tumble drying can take a long time and be costly for bulky underpads. If you have access to a clothesline or another way to air dry mattress pads, you are free to air dry them.
How do I protect my bed from incontinence?
The answer to this question varies depending on the level and type of incontinence. To ensure complete protection, a combination of incontinence aids like protective underwear or bladder control pads and underpads is most effective. For mild urinary incontinence with occasional leaks and drips, a disposable underpad on top of your mattress pad is effective. For bedridden patients or patients with severe urinary incontinence, you may want to pair bed pads with a waterproof mattress protector to avoid costly replacement.
Fecal incontinence will require some extra measures. Disposable bed pads or reusable hospital bed pads are best used atop sheets to help protect them and to make laundering easier. Beneath the sheets, make sure to use a waterproof mattress cover to prevent fecal matter from coming into contact with the mattress.
Should I choose disposable or reusable underpads for my bed?
This is largely a matter of personal preference. In cases of mild incontinence, reusable bed pads can save you money since they can be laundered and reused many times. They’re also ideal for sporadic incidents or overnight protection. You can remove and launder them in the morning, and they will be ready to go by evening.
In cases of severe incontinence or in cases where you may not want to do extra laundry, disposable bed pads may be the better choice. These are designed to be changed as needed throughout the day and night. Once used, simply dispose of it and place a new one on the bed.
Can I use an underpad with a waterproof mattress cover?
Yes, you can pair an underpad with a waterproof hospital mattress cover. In fact, in some cases, this may be the preferable way to protect the bed. Underpads are designed with absorbent material, and many feature waterproof back covers to prevent moisture from reaching the bed. This is especially true if incontinence is severe or happens overnight when you may not wake to change the underpad. In these cases, pair an underpad with a waterproof bed pad to make sure that liquid and fecal matter can’t reach the mattress.
What are some alternative uses for underpads?
Underpads and hospital bed pads don’t always have to be used on beds. In fact, they can be used in a number of different ways to protect surfaces. Place them on chairs or sofas to prevent leaks from reaching the upholstery. Use them to cover carpet if you are working around the house and anticipating a spill. They can be used to protect wheelchair seats, too. Some people have even used underpads to paper train pets or as temporary doormats.
MEDICAL ADVICE DISCLAIMER
The information, including but not limited to text, graphics, images, charts, and any other material on this site, is intended for informational purposes only and does not take the place of medical guidance provided by your physician. No information on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult a qualified medical professional about your condition or circumstances before undertaking a new healthcare regimen.