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Caregiving: Adult Underwear for Incontinence

Topic 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 protective underwear. A washable kind may be useful when a loved one has trouble with disposable underwear or finds it hard to let you help with the underwear.

When putting on adult underwear, make sure the tabs are in the back. For men, the penis should be positioned down and centred on the body. 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 to prevent leakage so that the skin doesn't get irritated.

To change the underwear

  • Always wash your hands well before and after each underwear change. Have the person you're caring for wash his or her hands too.
  • Have your loved one change out of the adult underwear as soon as possible after it becomes soiled or wet. Let the person do as much as possible on his or her 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.
  • If the person uses cloth or washable underwear, wash them with 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. You can also take steps to prevent and treat a rash and protect the skin.


Current as of:
July 17, 2020

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