What is adult underwear and incontinence supplies?

Adult Underwear and Incontinence Supplies

Absorbent products for urinary incontinence: Overview

Absorbent products are items that absorb urine, such as adult diapers, plastic-coated underwear, pads, or panty liners that attach to underwear. Most commercially available items are disposable (such as Depend or Poise). Some absorbent cloths can be washed and reused. Drip collectors that fit over the penis are also available.

Absorbent products may be used to manage any form of incontinence. Bladder control pads are a better choice than menstrual pads. Bladder control pads are made to absorb fluid faster, so they keep you dry and comfortable. And they are designed to reduce the odor of urine.

Types of adult 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.


Pull-up adult underwear with a wide elastic band.

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.

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


Cloth pull-up adult underwear.

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.

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

How well do absorbent products for urinary incontinence work?

Absorbent products are an effective way to relieve the embarrassment and discomfort of urine leakage.

What can you expect after using absorbent products for urinary incontinence?

Absorbent products do not cure incontinence. But they may be used for any duration of time. Skin irritations may be a recurring problem if soiled or wet absorbent products have extended contact with the skin.

What is adult underwear?

If the person you're caring for has incontinence (trouble controlling urine or stool), they may need to wear adult protective underwear. This underwear helps absorb urine and catch stool. It can be either washable or disposable.

Why are absorbent products for urinary incontinence used?

Absorbent products may be used if:

  • Your incontinence is not a significant disruption in your life.
  • You are waiting for another treatment for incontinence to take effect.
  • Your incontinence cannot be treated by other means.
  • You prefer to use absorbent products rather than medicines or surgery.

Absorbent products also may be used:

  • When you first begin exercises or behavioral treatment methods. Absorbent products can help manage incontinence until the treatment begins to take effect.
  • While you recover from surgery.
  • During other periods in which protection may be needed while you are pursuing other treatment.
  • If you are not a candidate for other forms of treatment.

What should you know about changing adult 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.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.