How to Buy Adult Diapers
Protection differs among various styles of adult diapers
Millions of adults struggle with chronic fecal or urinary incontinence on a daily basis. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of quality products on the market designed to meet their needs.
The most common solution to total bowel or bladder control loss is the brief-style disposable adult diaper.
Of all the types of incontinence products out there, these protective undergarments offer the most consistent leakage protection, the highest absorbency and the most security.
They generally feature a cloth-like or plastic outer surface, a highly absorbent inner core, leg elastics, and either tape tabs or hook-and-loop fasteners. Brief products by Abena, Attends, NorthShore and Molicare consistently outshine other competitors in this category.
Alternatively, pull-on disposable protective underwear products work like regular undergarments by pulling on and off, and they are meant to offer more dignity and freedom than brief-style diapers.
However, pull-ons often don’t have the capacity or protection to handle severe incontinence.
Disposable incontinence pads, much like female menstrual pads, are designed to be worn inside regular underwear.
They are generally not absorbent enough to protect against major bowel incontinence, but they can provide adequate protection against urinary incontinence.
Absorbency booster pads are worn inside a primary diaper for supplementary protection.
When they fill to capacity, wetness passes through them and into the host garment, extending the longevity of the main diaper. Many people with severe incontinence rely on booster pads for extra overnight protection.
When it comes to adult incontinence products, the general rule is that high absorbency comes at the cost of discreetness. For the most part, the higher a diaper’s capacity, the bulkier it’s going to look under clothing. It’s almost always a trade-off, although some are slightly less conspicuous than others.
Finding the best adult diapers
There isn’t a lot of informative testing out there on adult diapers, and I based much of these findings on owner reviews and ratings.
The best website by far for testing and reviews is XPMedical.com, an online retailer specializing in incontinence products. Owner Gary Evans and a small staff perform exhaustive testing on their products, and their ratings have a good reputation in the online adult diaper community. Their diaper reviews are detailed and specific, and information on each style includes wet and dry measurements, features, results of wetting and rewetting tests, cost per diaper and comments on overall quality and effectiveness.
I also considered the reviews done at IncontinenceSupport.info. They are more anecdotal than scientific, and I’d be happier I we knew more about those who administer the site, but the reviews are based on hands-on testing and cover most aspects of what those who need adult diapers should know before making a selection.
To name the best-reviewed adult diapers, I considered performance (how well the diaper retains contents, how well it absorbs fluids and how well it protects against leaks), ease of use (comfort, fit, convenience of removal) and odor absorption (whether the product neutralizes odor and how long the protection lasts). My top picks for disposable briefs, pull-on underwear, incontinence pads and booster pads all receive favorable reviews from experts and strong feedback from owners.
What the best adult diaper does
- Absorbs and retains liquid. Absorbency and leakage protection are the most important things to consider when buying a new brand of adult diaper.
- Proves easy to use and comfortable to wear. If the underwear or disposable brief doesn’t fit snugly, it could lead to leaks or discomfort.
- Neutralizes odor. Most styles and models of adult diapers contain an absorbent core that has been designed to suppress odors, although the effectiveness of this feature varies widely.
Know before you go
Consider your personal needs. A light pad may provide enough protection for mild stress incontinence, and a standard diaper may work well enough if it’s changed after each use. For those with severe incontinence or those who want to use a single diaper for multiple wettings, a premium diaper is the most reliable choice.
Choose a diaper that’s compatible with your clothing. Although premium diapers are the most effective, they can also be bulkier. While the increased bulk shouldn’t be an issue for those who wear fairly loose clothing, a less absorbent style or a highly absorbent pad worn inside close-fitting underwear will be more discreet under tighter clothing.
Pull-on underwear allows for easy removal. Users say pull-on underwear or pads are far easier to pull up and down than adult briefs, which need to be refastened on each side after a trip to the bathroom. Another option is to place a booster inside a brief and change the booster as needed while leaving the brief in place.
Start with a sample pack. Because of the variation in people’s body shapes and lifestyles, experts say there’s no incontinence product that works for everyone. Many makers and/or retailers offer small sample packs — usually two or three diapers — at a reduced price, so you can try the product before you commit to a larger order.
What about the backing? Adult diapers are available with either a plastic or a cloth-like paper outer shell. Experts say that plastic does a better job containing moisture and odor. However, plastic can sometimes make a crinkling sound when users move about.
Buy the smallest size that fits well, unless you need extra protection. Adult diapers and disposable pull-on underwear come in a range of sizes from extra small to extra-large and beyond. The snugger the fit, the less likely leaks will occur. Larger sizes, however, offer more absorption.
Try new products out at home first. An incontinence product that works well for one person’s body shape may be uncomfortable or leaky for someone else. Experts caution that even a top-rated brief, pull-up or pad should be tested in a private setting before being worn out in public.
Value Expectations: The Dollars and Cents of it
The cost of adult diapers varies widely based on retailer, quantity and size, so it’s difficult to pin down exact numbers.
In general, you can expect to spend between 60 cents and $2 per diaper, but buying in bulk can sometimes reduce the price.
Another great way to save is to buy booster pads, which are much more affordable, so that the primary garment needs to be changed less often.
What’s to Come
On the whole, adult diapers are trending toward a slimmer, more discreet fit. According to an article by the online retailer DiaperBuys.com, “More diapers are beginning to look like underwear and lack the significant padding of previous products. These diapers and briefs still provide the same absorbency and protection but allow for a more discreet appearance.” As brands develop increasingly effective chemicals and crystals for liquid absorption, the need for bulky diapers is gradually declining.
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