Brianna Maguire

If your residents are managing incontinence, providing the best information is critical. Correcting misconceptions and misuses leads to lower costs, less laundry and, most importantly, healthier people.

At Carewell, a leading source of caregiver products and information, we care deeply about the health and wellness of older adults. We put together a list of the misconceptions we hear every day, so you can promote healthier, happier lives for your patients.

“I like to put a pad inside my absorbent underwear for extra protection.”

This is one of the most common problems we hear when it comes to incontinence. Patients think they’re getting an extra boost of absorbency, but the opposite is true. Not to mention, they’re damaging their skin.

Most bladder control pads have a plastic-backing that stops urine leakage. When you put a pad inside of another absorbent product, moisture can’t pass through the pad, and instead leaks out the leg holes. What moisture is left behind collects against delicate skin, leading to breakdown and damage.

Instead, suggest that your residents look for a higher absorbency. Another option is booster pads — absorbent pads that don’t have a plastic backing and allow urine to pass through to the absorbent product beneath.

“I don’t need absorbent underwear. I’ll just use an underpad.”

Nurses used to believe that resting patients on an underpad, instead of absorbent underwear, was better for skin health because skin can breathe. These days, most protective underwear and tab-style briefs are made with breathable materials, and it’s dangerous to skin to just use an underpad. Here’s what happens:

  • Once urine comes in contact with air, a chemical reaction occurs that alters the pH of urine
  • Urine becomes highly alkaline and dangerous
  • Since underpads don’t soak up urine, it’s held against delicate skin, leading to skin breakdown and pressure ulcers.

In a nutshell, this means that nonabsorbent products like underpads can be dangerous to skin if the resident isn’t also wearing something absorbent.

Also, from a practical standpoint, underpads just can’t handle high volumes of urine, leading to more leaks and laundry.

“I need the highest absorbency possible.”

It’s true that many people need very high absorbency products, but a lot of the time, this preference is more about peace of mind than actual need. In most cases, it doesn’t really hurt to use a higher absorbency.

But higher absorbency products are much more expensive. You could save your residents a lot of money by trying a lower absorbency first and working your way up. Plus, lower absorbencies are a little slimmer and more comfortable.

“I’ll save money if I go with a cheaper option.”

Cheap incontinence products can be very tempting, but for those with heavy incontinence, they end up being more expensive in the long run. When you’re using a product that isn’t absorbent enough, you’ll end up changing three or four when just one good product would have done the trick.

“I’ve tried lots of brands of incontinence products in my regular size, and nothing fits me.”

Sizing for incontinence products is much different than sizing for clothing, so your residents will need to take their exact waist and hip measurements. Each of our products comes with a detailed sizing guide you can use to find a great fit, every time.

“My pull-up is too small, so I wear tab-style diapers over top.”

Just like bladder control pads, briefs and protective underwear have a plastic lining that stops incontinence from passing through. Stacking them on top of each other makes them less effective, and more likely to cause skin damage. Instead, we recommend finding exact waist and hip measurements so patients get a good fit the first time. In between sizes? Give us a call and we’ll be happy to provide samples.

Brianna Maguire is the content and community lead at Carewell, a trusted source of products and information for caregiversAt Carewell, we’re dedicated to providing the resources and information nurses and caregivers need to provide better care. Check out our Incontinence Guide for more information, or give us a call at (855) 855-1666 if you have any questions.