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What Is Incontinence Underwear Made Of?

Today, individuals with moderate to heavy urinary or bowel incontinence have access to various disposable underwear products that they can use to preserve their dignity and safeguard their clothing.

New styles of incontinence underwear are designed to fit like regular underwear and work better than ever to absorb overnight bladder leaks. In addition, they may include extra-absorbent material to wick urine up and away from your skin.

First, though, if you have skin sensitivity or other conditions, you may want to know what your incontinence underwear is made of.

woman wearing adult disposable absorbent underwear

A woman wearing disposable absorbent underwear. Many of today’s incontinence underwear are made to fit like regular underwear.

What Disposable Briefs Are Made Of

Disposable incontinence underwear is made to absorb and lock away urine and the liquid accompanying feces to prevent leakage and keep your skin dry and healthy.

They are created to protect against moderate to severe bowel or urinary incontinence and are modeled after baby diapers. Some designs have tabs (either a single fastener tab or dual tab fasteners on each side) and others are pull-up style pants meant to be put on and worn like regular underwear.

Disposable absorbent underwear is typically made up of the following parts:

  • The topsheet: This is the underwear element that comes in contact with your skin. It is engineered to transfer fluids quickly to the core while staying dry and soft to the touch.
  • The acquisition and distribution layer: This layer is located directly beneath the topsheet. It functions to pull liquid away from your sensitive skin and spread it more evenly across the core for enhanced absorbency.
  • The chassis: This outer casing encapsulates the core. Elastics secure it to your waist and create a seal around your legs.
  • The core: This is the center of the underwear where liquid feces and urine are stored after they’re absorbed.

Features of the Underwear Chassis

Your incontinence underwear’s outer covering features parts that make sure it conforms to your body. These characteristics include:

  • The backsheet: Your underwear’s water-resistant outer layer serves to stop liquids from escaping and soaking into your clothing or bedding. The backsheet is often made of polyethylene and is sometimes designed with a structure that allows air and water vapor to escape. This helps reduce moisture and maintain drier skin.
  • Features for comfort and fit: Adult diapers vary in their specific materials and designs; however, they all function similarly. Fastening tabs, elastic materials, and stretchy side panels allow the undergarments to fit snugly against your waist to give you a more comfortable fit. Also, leak guards and cuffs prevent leakage and make sure your incontinence underwear fits properly around your thighs.

Features of the Underwear Core

The center-most layer of disposable absorbent underwear is called the core and is typically composed of:

  • Superabsorbent polymers (SAPs): Superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) are compounds developed and added to diapers in the 1980s. The most common SAP used in disposable absorbent underwear is called sodium polyacrylate. It absorbs several times its weight in fluids and locks away moisture so that it can’t irritate your skin and cause a rash or infection.
  • Cellulose fluff pulp: Fluff pulp is made from cellulose materials, including cotton, wheat, corn, or long-fiber wood. It functions in the core to instantly absorb and transfer liquid feces and urine to the SAPs, where it is locked in place. This means that even if you sit on underwear that’s full, you will stay dry.

As disposable absorbent underwear technology improves, less cellulose fluff pulp is required. This reduces their environmental impact due to decreased volume and weight, making the disposable absorbent underwear also more comfortable and less noticeable.

Make an Informed Choice Regarding Underwear Quality

“You get what you pay for” is a suitable adage for incontinence underwear products. That's because the quality of their components can vary in several ways.

Bargain Briefs Are Made With Cheap Materials and Hold Less

For example, bargain briefs typically have a cheap plastic backsheet that may tear easily. In addition, they’re often made with tape that comes loose when you move and rips the plastic backing when you attempt to make adjustments.

Poor-quality briefs also take in less urine than pricier models and need to be changed five or more times a day rather than the typical three or four.

Higher Priced Incontinence Underwear Are Cheaper in the Long Run

Disposable absorbent underwear with superior quality have strong yet soft cloth-like backsheets, and depending on the style can have loop fasteners, tabs, or wraparound elastics that hold securely.

Quality wraparound styles can be pulled up or down like regular underwear, allowing for toilet use. Plus, they are easily torn on the sides when soiled for easier disposal.

Well-made tab-based styles are designed to be repeatedly fastened and unfastened, making it easier for a caregiver to help when facing mobility issues.

The difference between premium capacity underwear and lower absorbency diapers means that in the long run, you'll be paying less for higher-priced products; you’ll use less and will need to purchase them less often.

What Are Other Incontinence Product Types Made Of?

Other incontinence products include disposable liners, guards, and pads. They’re used when minor urine leaks occur when you sneeze, work out, cough, or lift heavy objects. They are sometimes called pads or panty liners (for women) or shields or guards (for men).

Disposable incontinence pads absorb leakage in the middle or front of the product and are hour-glass shaped for women and cup-shaped for men. They are typically made up of:

  • A waterproof backing
  • An inner core that holds the superabsorbent polymers to absorb fluid effectively
  • An adhesive strip made to secure it to your underwear
  • Elastic sides that act as leak guards and help it form a cup shape

Incontinence Pads Differ From Sanitary Napkins

Incontinence pads may resemble sanitary napkins used by women during menstruation; however, they are different. The gel and padding incontinence products are meant to primarily soak up urine, while sanitary napkins are designed to absorb blood.

In addition, the absorbent gel and padding in incontinence pads differ from sanitary napkins due to the dissimilar chemistry make-up and other characteristics between urine and blood.

For example, bladder control pads are made to absorb the fast expulsion of urine quickly. On the other hand, menstrual pads soak up the much slower menstrual blood flow.

Incontinence pads have polymer fabrics that keep moisture away from your skin, so you stay comfortable, dry, and odor-free. Also, they neutralize the pH of highly acidic urine, which can lead to a skin rash if not changed quickly enough.

Choose an Incontinence Underwear Brand You Can Trust

For otherwise active and healthy individuals, a discreet incontinence product allows you to continue your daily activities without embarrassment or fear. Made for Living offers pull-up style disposable absorbent underwear in four sizes for the perfect fit.

Our underwear includes a quality, cloth-like cover, multiple layers with excellent absorption capability, and no harmful chemicals in order to protect your skin and reduce irritation. And soon, you can look for our line of incontinence pads.

For more information on any of our products, please contact us today.

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