Caregiving: Adult Underwear for Incontinence

Overview

Adult protective underwear may be helpful for a person who has incontinence. A person who has incontinence has trouble controlling urine or stool. This underwear helps absorb urine and catch stool.

There are different types of adult underwear. A washable type may be useful when a loved one has trouble using the disposable type.

When putting on adult underwear, make sure the tabs are in the back. Make sure the underwear is the right size so that it fits well. This is important for people who are very thin or overweight. The elastic at the legs should fit well and not be too loose. A good fit can help stop leaks. And it can keep the skin from getting sore.

Changing the underwear

  • Always wash your hands well before and after each underwear change. Have the person you're caring for wash their hands too.
  • Have the person change out of the adult underwear as soon as possible after it becomes soiled or wet. Let them do as much as they can on their own. But give help when needed.
  • Leave the underwear off and let the area dry for 5 to 10 minutes after each change if possible. But keep the person covered to help them feel more comfortable.
  • If the person uses cloth or washable underwear, wash them in the warmest temperature recommended on the labels. Use mild detergent and rinse them twice. Do not use bleach or fabric softeners.
  • If the person uses cloth underwear, try using a breathable cover that will help to prevent leaks.

The person may get a rash in the genital area, especially if that area doesn't get cleaned well. Rashes can occur when the skin stays wet, rubs against the underwear, or comes into contact with urine and stool. The skin may look red, raw, or burned. Some people also may be allergic to the perfumes in the underwear material.

Clean the groin area daily. And check for irritated skin and rashes so that you can treat them as soon as they happen.

Types of protective underwear for men

Some types of adult underwear are a pull-up style (made of elastic or cloth), and some use adhesive tabs or an elastic band with buttons.

Elastic

Pull-up adult underwear with wide elastic band, with view of penis positioned down
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slide 1 of 4, Elastic,

An elastic pull-up style is made of a stretchy material. With any type of adult underwear, the penis should be positioned down and centered on the body.

Adhesive

Pull-up adult underwear with adhesive tabs on each side
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slide 2 of 4, Adhesive,

Adhesive tab styles have tabs to help adjust and secure the underwear.

Cloth

Cloth pull-up adult underwear
slide 3 of 4
    
slide 3 of 4, Cloth,

Cloth pull-up styles are made to look and feel like standard briefs.

Elastic bands and buttons

Pull-up adult underwear with elastic bands that attach to the front
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slide 4 of 4, Elastic bands and buttons,

Elastic band and button styles use stretchy bands with buttons at the end to secure the pull-up on each side.

Types of protective underwear for women

Some types of adult underwear are a pull-up style (made of elastic or cloth), and some use adhesive tabs or an elastic band with buttons.

Elastic

Pull-up adult underwear with a wide elastic band.
slide 1 of 4
    
slide 1 of 4, Elastic,

An elastic pull-up style is made of a stretchy material.

Adhesive tab pull-up

Pull-up adult underwear with adhesive tabs on each side.
slide 2 of 4
    
slide 2 of 4, Adhesive tab pull-up,

Adhesive tab styles have tabs to help adjust and secure the underwear.

Cloth

Cloth pull-up adult underwear.
slide 3 of 4
    
slide 3 of 4, Cloth,

Cloth pull-up styles are made to look and feel like standard briefs.

Elastic bands or buttons

Pull-up adult underwear with elastic bands that attach to the front.
slide 4 of 4
    
slide 4 of 4, Elastic bands or buttons,

Elastic band and button styles use stretchy bands with buttons at the end to secure the pull-up on each side.

Credits

Current as of: September 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Gayle E. Stauffer, RN - Registered Nurse