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Using Incontinence Pads

You are experiencing urine leaks and are thinking about using incontinence pads? You wonder how to use it and what they are actually there for? Read more on why to use incontinence pads and what kind of pads there are to help you prevent urine leaks.

What are incontinence pads?

Incontinence pads are specifically designed to absorb and contain urine and/or faeces. They have an acquisition layer which promotes the fast passage of urine through to the inner core of the pad and allows the dispersion of fluids into the absorbent core. The absorption core usually contains a Super Absorbent Powder as well. This locks away the fluid in the form of a gel keeping the user’s skin dry. Disposable products with super absorbent powder are often recommended over those without super absorbent powder, as they reduce skin wetness and therefore, help reduce the risk of dermatitis and skin breakdown.  

Incontinence pads also have an odour control system which works in two ways: 

  1. Helps prevent the formation of ammonia and odours 
  2. Helps maintain a healthy skin pH. 

Absorbent products are available in a range of designs with a wide variety of sizes and absorbencies to suit light through to very heavy incontinence. If there is doubt about the level of absorbency of a pad a person requires, then it is recommended that they try smaller products for light incontinence first and then increase the size and absorbency of the pad as necessary. Using a product that has either insufficient absorbency or too much absorbency can increase the risk of skin irritation. 

What is my ideal solution?

Products for Light Incontinence 

iD light incontinence pads

Small shaped pads are designed for the management of stress or light incontinence. These incontinence pads have a wide adhesive strip and are worn with regular close-fitting underwear.

Several products have been specifically designed for light male urinary incontinence and have a shell-shaped design. Men may prefer to use these products over others as pads may feel “feminine”.

Products for Moderate to Heavy Incontinence

Products such as shaped pads and All-In-Ones are available for the management of heavier incontinence problems. Small shaped pads and pants should be the first choice of product as they offer the user comfort, protection and discretion. It is recommended that shaped pads are used with reusable net pants of the correct size in order to ensure that there is a close fit between the pad and the body and that the pad is held securely in place which in turn helps to avoid urine leakage.

iD slip incontinence

The All-In-One style should only be used where there is a clear clinical need, e.g. severe incontinence in an immobile person. Inappropriate pad/pants size will result in poor absorbency, leakage, skin irritation and patient discomfort.

Elasticated pants provide a comfortable, discreet product that a person can wear as a replacement to regular underwear.  These types of products may be suitable to individuals with moderate urinary incontinence who may have manual dexterity problems and may not be able to fasten or position other designs of products. They are also well suited to individuals suffering from dementia, and because they resemble conventional underwear, individuals may find them more acceptable as a product to manage incontinence.

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It is very important that incontinence pads are fitted correctly as this can make the difference between a pad that works and one that doesn’t.  

Disposing of Used Incontinence Pads

The best way of disposing of used pads is to place them in a small bag or nappy sack and then dispose of them in the normal family dustbin for local refuse collectors. Never attempt to flush any incontinence pads down the toilet. 

Recycling is not yet a common option for these products although there are a limited number of facilities starting to become available, please contact your local authority or service provider for more information.

Do other people notice? 

The person you are caring for or you yourself may be worried that others will notice that they/you are wearing a pad or that their incontinence causes an unpleasant odour. However, this is rarely the case. Other people will not notice the slight bulge that a pad sometimes causes for the simple reason that they are not looking for it. As well as this, most are far too caught up in their own lives to notice anything. 

In general, urinary incontinence should not cause a problem with odour, especially if incontinence pads and underwear are changed regularly. Faecal incontinence can obviously cause more of a problem but with proper protection, good personal hygiene and changing pads promptly after a leakage, many problems can be avoided. 


  • Always use the pads which are most suitable for the needs of the person you are caring for, and make sure that they are fitted correctly
  • Seek advice if the skin is wet when the pad is changed
  • Consult a Healthcare Professional if the person you are caring for has eczema or psoriasis or is prone to other conditions that affect their skin
  • Take note the condition of the skin whilst using incontinence pads and if this changes e.g. becomes red, sore or broken consult a healthcare professional
  • Wash your hands before and after changing the pad
  • Don’t apply ointments or creams unless advised by a Healthcare Professional.
  • Don’t use talcum powder on sensitive areas, it can cause friction which may damage the skin and also affect how well the pad works
  • Don’t wear more than one pad at a time

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