Your Guide to Incontinence Pads
Choosing the proper protection will make you feel more confident and avoid accidents. The type of incontinence pad you want will depend on your needs and comfort level.
By Dennis Thompson Jr.
Medically Reviewed by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
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Incontinence pads and adult diapers can be essential to maintaining your dignity and comfort while looking for solutions to urinary incontinence.
They make it possible for you to work, relax, and sleep without worrying about soiling clothing, furniture, or bed sheets. Pads come in a number of different forms, so you should be able to find an one to fit your lifestyle.
Incontinence pads are designed specifically to absorb urine leakage and protect the skin from wetness and rash. A survey by the National Association for Continence (NAFC) found that three of every five of its consumer members used some type of incontinence pad or adult diaper.
Unfortunately, the study revealed that many were using products not specifically made for the task. About one in every four women with incontinence said they used sanitary napkins to absorb leaked urine, the NAFC found. Sanitary napkins are made to absorb menstrual blood, however, and do not provide the same level of protection as incontinence pads. Another 17 percent of women with incontinence reported using tissues, paper towels, or toilet paper rather than specifically designed incontinence pads.
Incontinence Pads: Explore Your Options
In selecting an incontinence pad, you should make your decision based on how easy it is to use and how much absorbency you require. Larger and thicker incontinence pads will absorb more urine, but will be bulkier and harder to put on and remove. In general, pads will prove more helpful to people with light or moderate urine leakage.
Your options include:
- Pantiliners.These are very thin and discreet, and are useful with light urine loss.
- Pads.These are thicker and designed for moderate urine loss in men and women.
- Guards.These are contoured to better fit snugly around male anatomy.
All are designed to be worn inside your underwear. They have a waterproof backing to keep urine from leaking through, and are much more absorbent than women's sanitary napkins. Some feature adhesive strips to hold the pad in place. Most are disposable, but some companies do produce washable cloth incontinence pads that you insert into waterproof underwear.
Shields and Diapers for Incontinence Protection
Adult diapers and heavier forms of incontinence pads are available for people with moderate to heavy urine leakage. They are usually worn in place of underwear, and they are designed to fit snugly. Most include leg gathers to prevent urine leakage. They are available in both disposable and reusable forms.
- Shields.These resemble thicker incontinence pads with hip straps attached for support.
- Adult diapers.These feature adhesive tape for fastening, and provide all-around protection for people with heavy incontinence.
When using pads or diapers, it is very important to replace them once they have absorbed urine. Keeping a soaked pad in contact with your skin can lead to rash and irritation. Take the pad out or the diaper off, thoroughly clean and dry your skin, then put on a new pad or diaper.
Following these basic guidelines will make you feel better and improve your ability to go about your daily routines.
Video: Pads for Women: NorthShore Guide to Incontinence Supplies
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