ADULT DIAPERS - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Choosing the Right Protective Undergarments
Whether you personally suffer from incontinence or care for someone who does, finding the right solutions is imperative to maintaining comfort, health, and hygiene. Adult diapers and protective undergarments will undoubtedly be at the top of your list. With so many options and different features to choose from, selecting the best product for you or those you care for can be overwhelming. From style and fit to absorbency, the following guide will provide you with nearly everything you should consider about buying adult diapers.
The Difference Between Adult Diapers and Protective Underwear:
The terms 'adult diaper' and 'protective underwear' are often used interchangeably; however, by definition, protective underwear is a pull-up form of reusable undergarments typically worn by independent individuals with light incontinence. Adult diapers are most often disposable and have tabs or velcro on the sides allowing for a customized fit. Keep in mind that an individual may need more than one style for various parts of their lives. Specialty products offer protection for different purposes like swim diapers designed to securely hold fluids and solids in water and overnight diapers with enhanced moisture-wicking and super absorbency properties to allow for a good night's sleep. More discreet reusable protective underwear with or without an additional incontinence pad may be preferred in social situations or under tight-fitting clothing.
TYPES OF ADULT DIAPERS
Tab-Style Adult Briefs
Commonly referred to as 'adult briefs,' tab-style adult diapers are undergarments with flexible tabs on each side to allow for a customizable fit and avoid leakage. An absorbent core with odor control, moisture-wicking properties, and breathable side panels provide added comfort and improved hygiene. Incontinence briefs are best for those who experience heavy urinary or bowel incontinence or need assistance with changing.
As the name implies, pull-ups are designed to be put on like regular underwear. Pull-up style incontinence undergarments can be disposable or reusable and are available in a variety of absorbencies and specific styles for both men and women. Although the superior absorbency technology of many of these diapers is comparable to the tabbed style versions, pull-ups are generally used by individuals who are capable of tending to their own changes.
Belted Adult Diapers
Belted incontinence undergarments are a cross between a pad and an adult diaper. Used by those who prefer a more secure fit than is often offered by an incontinence pad but more breathability than traditional adult diapers, belted undergarments have a flexible belt secured to either side of the absorbent core. The elastic belt conforms comfortably around the waist offering discreet confidence.
Made of non-swelling material and tear-away sides for easy removal, adult swim diapers are designed to contain bowel movements from contaminating the water during physical therapy or recreational swimming. These specialty adult diapers are meant to be worn under a traditional bathing suit and are available in multiple sizes.
Other Types of Protective Underwear
- Washable - Commonly used by independent individuals with light to moderate incontinence, reusable incontinent undergarments are designed to mimic traditional underwear.
- Mesh - Made of lightweight knit fabric, mesh underwear hold incontinence pads in place or over traditional adult diapers for added security. Mesh pants are also a staple in postpartum care.
- Diaper Covers - Plastic diaper covers offer additional protection from leakage and odors.
When selecting an incontinence undergarment, your first consideration should be absorbency rating. Most brands of adult diapers and protective underwear are typically designed for light, moderate, heavy and super absorption.
Size & Fit
An adult diaper must fit correctly to maximize its effectiveness. Loose-fitting diapers can leak and tight-fitting diapers can be uncomfortable. The right fit should be snug and contoured, but not feel restrictive. For more information on how find the best size for you, visit our Adult Diaper Sizing Guide.
Most disposable incontinence briefs are made with a cloth or plastic backing material. The cloth-like version is discreet, breathable and comfortable but more likely to leak when at maximum absorbency. Plastic-lined diapers offer superior protection but despite breathable side panels, do not allow as much airflow.
Odor & Moisture Control
Adult diapers with enhanced moisture control have an absorbent core to wick away fluids quickly. This action helps to prevent unwanted odors and skin conditions like rashes, irritations and bacterial infections; and ultimately, a much more comfortable experience.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING ADULT DIAPERS
Fecal Incontinence - Heavy Duty
OUR PICKS - POPULAR PRODUCTS BY USE
What Causes Diaper Rash in Adults?
Diaper rash usually begins as an uncomfortable pink or red irritation of the skin. Left untreated, this rash can evolve into more significant sores and even become infected. Caused by trapped moisture and bacteria between incontinence undergarments, diaper rash is often inevitable for those who wear these products on a regular basis. Fortunately, diaper rash is easily treated and even avoided in most instances.
- Skin irritation from heat, moisture, chafing and rubbing
- Inflammation of the skin caused by the ammonia in trapped urine or the enzymes in stools
- Allergic reaction to fragrances or materials used in the incontinence products
- Fungal infections like Candida albicans, a common yeast naturally found in human flora
- Bacterial infections like Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as a staph infection
- Flare-ups of chronic skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema.
How to Treat Adult Diaper Rash
Treating a minor adult diaper rash can usually be managed at home. If you experience excessive pain, itchiness, inflammation, oozing or burning, however, consult a physician immediately.
Effective At-Home Treatments*
- Change incontinence products at the first sign of moisture
- Thoroughly cleanse and rinse the affected area multiple times per day with a quality perineal cleanser
- Gently pat dry irritated skin rather than rubbing
- Only use cleansers and incontinence wipes free of alcohol, dyes, fragrances or other irritants
- Whenever possible, allow the rash exposure to the air and avoid wearing incontinence briefs, pads, and diapers to allow the healing to begin
- Apply a thin layer of protective ointment or lubricant like zinc oxide or petroleum jelly to act as a moisture barrier and promote healing.
Should the diaper rash persist longer than 3 days, consult a physician. In moderate or severe cases, prescription corticosteroid, fungal, or antibacterial ointments and creams may be necessary to alleviate symptoms.
Adult Diaper Rash Prevention
The best treatment for adult diaper rash is to avoid it in the first place. Begin a daily regimen that includes frequent changing of incontinence products, regular cleansing of the perineal area with a gentle cleanser, and application of a skin barrier ointment or cream. If diaper rashes persist, consider trying an adult diaper, protective undergarment, or pad; many technological advancements in absorbency, breathability and moisture-wicking have been implemented into the design of incontinence products.
Popular Products for the Prevention of Adult Diaper Rash
- Prevail Air™ Plus Daily Briefs are specially designed with an integrated hygiene system called Prevail® Microclimate Care™. This system combines a revolutionary absorbency layer for 100% breathability and an innovative AirMax™ layer to lock away moisture but allow the easy escape of heat and humidity.
- Medline Premium Disposable Polymer Underpads offer a protective layer on bedsheets and chairs. Made with exceptional moisture-wicking and odor-retaining polymers, these underpads will help to keep leaked moisture away from sensitive skin.
- The TENA Intimates line consists of exceptional incontinence pads for any time of day. Designed with super-absorbent microbeads, these generously long bladder control pads offer ultimate absorbency for light, moderate, and heavy incontinence as well as overnight protection.
- A quality perineal cleanser like Convatec's Aloe Vesta Perineal Skin Cleanser is a moisture-rich incontinence care product that cleanses, nourishes, and protects. Aloe Vesta is formulated with natural ingredients, such as aloe vera, and protein-rich emollients that moisturize, condition, and restore skin to its natural moisture balance.
- Baza Protect Skin Barrier Cream contains both zinc oxide and dimethicone to help heal and prevent adult diaper rash. Please note: this product should only be used on intact to slightly excoriated skin.
- An old standby like Vaseline Pure Ultra White Petroleum Jelly is a highly effective way to protect irritated skin or to prevent a rash from forming.
*Information sourced from Medical News Today
TREATING ADULT DIAPER RASH
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do adult diapers work?
Adult medical diapers have several key features to catch incidents of incontinence, keep your skin dry, control odor, and protect clothing and bedding from stains. Fitted with absorbent pads to collect waste, some adult diapers also have waterproof liners or outer coverings to help prevent leaks. Protective underwear utilizes elasticized leg openings and waistbands to prevent waste from embarrassing leaks.
As the effectiveness of adult diapers is largely due to proper fit, be sure to consult the manufacturer’s size chart before purchasing. Taking care to choose the correct size will ensure maximum protection. Please note that incontinence underwear should fit snugly at the waist and around the thighs.
How do I dispose of adult diapers?
Soiled adult diapers and protective underwear should be handled with care. To maintain a sanitary environment and control odor, proper disposal is essential. At home or in a clinical setting, disposal options like the Janibell® Akord Adult Diaper Disposal System offer a sanitary hands-free way to dispose of adult diapers, pads, liners, wipes and other incontinence products. Used with an odor-controlling liner, these diaper pails are made specifically for adult-sized items and should be emptied daily. Avoid throwing away used diapers in communal trash cans.
In public, do not place used diapers in trash cans unless you use a disposable bag designed for this purpose. Disposable diaper bags seal away waste, preventing health hazards and odors. It is wise to carry disposable diaper bags if you anticipate needing to change in a public restroom.
Can bladder control underwear leak?
Bladder control underwear can leak, but there are a variety of things you can do to minimize the chances of leakage. Start by choosing the right product for you and your specific needs. Protective underwear should be sized to fit snugly around the waist and legs. You should also choose the correct absorbency level to ensure you have proper protection. Leaks are often caused by overflowing absorbent material or improperly fitted underwear. To prevent overflow, you should also make sure to change bladder control underwear as often as recommended by the manufacturer or as soon as the absorbency maximum has been reached. Please note - With normal wear and tear from daily activities, incontinence products can begin to break down and become looser or less absorbent. Timely replacement will help keep you feeling clean and confident, as well as prevent leaks.
How often will I need to change my incontinence briefs?
Changing incontinence briefs regularly is crucial to sanitation and for preventing leaks. If the underwear has been soiled, change it immediately so that waste and moisture isn’t trapped against the skin. Most experts recommend changing disposable underwear between five and eight times per day. Even if the underwear has not been soiled, frequent changes will prevent rashes and other health issues caused by sweat, bacteria and other factors.
How do I change a bedridden patient’s incontinence briefs?
When assisting a bedridden patient, proper sanitation processes are imperative. Wash your hands and wear disposable medical gloves. With the patient lying on his or her back, unfasten the diaper’s tabs; then roll the patient on his or her side by placing one hand on their shoulder and one hand on their hip. Gently pull the diaper out from beneath them and dispose of it properly.
Make sure to clean the patient thoroughly with cleansing products designed specifically for incontinence. Dispose of incontinence wipes or disposable washcloths with sanitation in mind. Skin barrier cream or protective ointment can be used after cleansing to prevent rashes and bedsores. Next, open a new diaper and tuck one side of it beneath the patient’s hip. Roll the patient onto the diaper, pull it between their legs, and fasten the tabs. Dispose of your gloves and wash your hands.
What medical conditions require adults to wear diapers?
There are many conditions that can result in the need to use incontinence products. A common condition, overactive bladder, can be caused by damage to the bladder’s nerves, other parts of the nervous system, damage to pelvic floor muscles, or aging. Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke, diabetes, and even excessive bladder infections can also lead to urinary or bowel incontinence.
Disposable adult diapers and reusable incontinence underwear are also useful for patients unable to get to the bathroom by themselves. They can prevent soiled clothing and bedding in the event that a caregiver cannot reach them in time to assist them to the bathroom.
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.