So you’ve come to some point of acceptance that your regular underwear is not effective at keeping you dry. Whether you are racing for a bathroom when the urge hits, or dribbling on after using the bathroom, or having total wetting accidents when you least expect and are out in public…..you have come to the point of wanting to try something to keep these incidents private.
For the mild cases, usually characterized as urge incon or stress incon, you experience some leakage when you are heading to the toilet (urge incon) or when you cough, laugh, pick up something heavy (stress incon). And incomplete emptying of the bladder is another form that can result in wet underwear caused by post dribbling. At first the wet underwear may be just uncomfortable and the wetness is not so bad it shows up as a wet spot on your pants.
At this point, some resort to stuffing paper towels into their underwear. And others go a step further and buy feminine protection pads, but soon find they are not very effective for holding urine.
If we go back in time to before “disposable underwear”, AKA pull-ups for adults, was available, you would go to the pharmacy and check out the diaper / incon isle.
You might look into “pads”. Poise is the big brand and pads are absorbent, have a waterproof plastic backing and a strip of adhesive that is supposed to hold the pad somewhat secure in your cotton underpants, which need to be briefs, not boxers. Minor leakage can now be contained in something that prevents the wetness from getting thru your underpants and possibly out onto your outer wear.
If the incon worsens, and that is usually the case, the pad gets saturated and leaks over the edges and your underwear gets wet. Now you have to look into a larger pad, that covers more area and is more absorbent. Such larger pads cannot be effectively held in place with just a pair of cotton briefs. Mesh pants are the answer for this. Called the pad and pant system, the pad can be nearly the equivalent of a (real) diaper but with no means of fastening it around your waist. The pants are very stretchy and usually a lousy fit, but for some, it avoids the “diaper stigma”, as it holds the “almost a diaper” in place to hopefully prevent wet outer wear.
In about the same category is a product termed “disposable undergarments” that are best described as like a loin cloth, slung into your crotch and reaching from your lower back to about your belly button. They come with short elastic straps that button or Velcro onto the undergarment to hold it in place. The elastic goes from the front, across your hip to the rear, one on each side. All incon wear gets heavy with wetting, of course, and these undergarments will benefit from additional support provided by your cotton briefs. For those with lighter wetting that doesn’t get the protection too heavy, they may be able to get away with wearing boxer shorts over the undergarment.
When the pad and pant system and / or undergarment type of protection fails to provide the security and comfort that people seek, which can happen pretty quickly to most, especially active people, then something that fastens more securely is needed.
This is where the tape on disposable brief fills the need. Never called a diaper by the manufacturers….in fact, no adult incon product is ever called a diaper…. Even tho they are, in fact, diapers. An absorbent core, wrap around sides, elastic leg openings, often elastic waist bands and 4 to 6 adhesive tapes to stick the diaper on. Originally only found with plastic backing, they became available in “cloth like” backing intended to deal with diaper stigma by offering you something to wear that didn’t look like plastic, feel like plastic or crinkle like plastic.
To this day, the adult diaper (disposable brief) is the best protection available to incontinent people. The tape on attachment (also available in Velcro-on attachment in some brands) provides a secure and custom fit to most wearers. The advent of super absorbent polymers (SAP) brought us diapers that are pretty thin and thus concealable under normal clothing while still providing excellent absorbency for long term wear while minimizing embarrassing leaks.
As for brands and choices you have available to you, I will not attempt to go into that, as it is well covered on the web. One of the best sites is www.xpmedical.com where the owner, Gary, is incontinent himself and knows exactly what it like and what we face when we are looking for a diaper that will work effectively for our situations. His page on absorbency comparison is very well done, comprehensive and I’m sure you will find it helpful when choosing a diaper.
Another site offering additional brand choices is www.magicmedical.com. There are many others but you won’t go wrong with these for good information and choices.
Your choice of diapers will be extensive on line, far-far better than any store or pharmacy. In addition, premium diapers will be found on line that you will never, or hardly ever, find in stores.
In addition there are discussion forums like this one and a couple of others you may wish to join and get involved in discussion of managing incontinence with diapers. www.incontinentsupport.org and http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/adultincon/
Now for the latest entry into the diaper choices field, we have adult pull ups. Again, manufacturers won’t call them diapers….the term is “disposable underwear” and they are a pull up (pull on) diaper. Absorbent core, waterproof backing-always the cloth like; no plastic backing is offered, and stretchy leg openings and a stretchy waist band. So they pull on / up just like your cotton underwear.
The disposable underwear product has taken over most all the shelf space in stores and pharmacies offering incontinent products. Most likely you won’t find tape on “diapers” (disposable briefs), as they are too “diaper-like” compared to the pull on “underwear”, and they don’t sell. What does not sell gets pulled off the shelves. You may still see pads on the shelf as an option to the underwear product.
I don’t consider the pull up / underwear in the same class as a diaper / brief. The underwear product does not hold as much wetting and since it is dependent on waistband tension to hold it up, it naturally wants to sag and slip down as it gets wet. This can be helped somewhat by wearing your snug fitting cotton briefs over the disposable underwear but still, there is a limit.
When wet to the point of needing to change them, you must undress. In a cleanliness challenged public restroom stall, that is not very convenient or desirable; having to remove shoes and pants. Not to get the wet one off, as they all have tear away sides and will come off like a diaper, but you need to step into a new dry one and pull it up and then get dressed again.
I do not recommend pull ups / underwear for people who wet consistently and should be wearing a tape on diaper. But for people wearing them mostly for “just in case” protection they can be wonderful, not to mention a far better option than taking a chance on going someplace without protection, only to find you really should have worn some protection! And if your track record is leaky, and you just might have to do a change “on the road”, then consider wearing two pair, one over the other. A little bit bulky perhaps, but now you won’t have to undress to change. Simply pull your pants down, pull the outer pull up down and tear away the inner wet one and pull the dry one back up. That can work for some, tho wearing a more appropriate product such as a tape on diaper is usually a better and more leak free choice for people who know they are going to wet while out and about.
Pull ups have a narrow crotch to really feel like normal underwear and help with concealment, but that narrow crotch can leak readily….and before the pull up ever gets fully utilized. SAP, as great as it is, does not allow much wicking….that is, moving wetness from one part of the product to a dryer part. Once again, I stress that pull-ups are great for just in case protection and you should not be getting them too wet….otherwise, you may just have to face up to the fact that you really need a tape on diaper….gasp!
You may find some pull ups “rated” for overnight protection, but most people find them inadequate to keep the bed dry. OK probably for those who sleep on their back and don’t move, but for anyone sleeping on their side, the pull up has nothing much to offer in effective protection against wet sheets.
A tape on diaper has a much wider crotch and usually has “fluff” which adds bulk but helps wicking that moves wetness from the crotch to up the front and up the back of the diaper. A diaper is designed to get used…to get wet. And still, even a “real” diaper can have trouble keeping your sheets dry overnight since there is little to no absorbent material in the wings that wrap around your waist.
People who consistently sleep on their side often find they need to augment their disposable diaper protection. In some cases that means a cotton pant (diaper pant) with plastic pants and that creates diaper laundry that many don’t want. But that can be very effective when your disposable diaper leaks out the side since the cotton pants catch it and the plastic pants keep the sheets dry. Disposable augmentation is limited to the under pads / bed pads that are only useful if they stay in place to keep a diaper leak from getting the sheets wet.
Cloth diapering is often a better choice for keeping the sheets dry, tho it does involve diaper laundry and waterproof pants, the most common being plastic pants. Cloth diapering these days can be thick cotton pull on pants in which you can add a booster strip of cotton if additional absorbency is needed. Tho they are held up by an elastic waist band, when you are in bed, there is little or no tendency for the diapering to sag down, such as is the case when you’re up and walking around.
Cloth diapering that works for day time wear as well as overnight wear, and is much like the disposable diapers you may be used to, is the Velcro on contour diaper. It goes on just like your disposable; back up to the wall to hold the back of the diaper up, pull the front up between your legs and instead of tapes, you have Velcro tabs that fasten the wings to the front of the diaper. Very secure in that they stay up and absorbency can be boosted with adding an insert into the diaper before fastening it around your waist. Waterproof pants, again plastic are the most common, are a necessary part of cloth diapering. I do not advocate “all in one” cloth diapers as the waterproofing built in seldom lasts for long and makes laundering the diaper more difficult.
A good number of incontinent people wear disposable diapers by day, which are convenient and easy to conceal with most clothing, but resort to cloth diapering at night when concealment is not an issue and cloth holds the advantage over disposable diapers when it comes to keeping the sheets dry.
Guest written by Joe K