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At some point, many of us will find ourselves or a loved one in the market for a discreet form of protection from leakage.
Whether incontinence is a result of pregnancy, age, surgery, or another medical condition, wearing an adult diaper or absorbent undergarment can help you feel secure about leaving the house and going about your daily activities.
People may wish to use an absorbent undergarment for leakage of urine, stool, or bleeding associated with postpartum or menopause. Finding a product that is comfortable, fits well under clothes, allows for movement without leaking, and keeps the skin as fresh and dry as possible will go a long way toward comfort and peace of mind.
There are a variety of undergarments on the market, from super absorbent overnight diapers to thinner or more flexible options for on-the-go adults.
We know the research process can feel daunting with everything else you have going on, so we’ve rounded up 5 of the top products on the market to get you started in your search.
If you think adult diapers are only for people over age 65, you’re not alone. Known primarily as a tool for older adults, tab-style diapers or pull-ups are commonly advertised for hospital or assisted living settings.
However, these disposable garments also serve a purpose for adults of all ages needing absorbent undergarments for conditions like urinary or bowel incontinence or after childbirth or surgeries that cause temporary incontinence problems.
Types of adult diapers
Adult diapers come in two styles:
- Pull-on version. This style is a good choice if you’re looking for a less bulky absorbent undergarment and want a fit more like underwear.
- Diapers with tabs. Diapers with tabs are easier for people who have difficulty standing to put them on or for those cared for by a caregiver. They’re also more fitted at the leg, which helps reduce leaks.
Finding the right size is important
The first step to choosing an adult diaper, says Dr. Michael Ingber, a urologist board certified in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at The Center for Specialized Women’s Health, is ensuring the proper size.
“Too small and it can be uncomfortable, overflow, or even cut off blood supply. Too big and it can leak out the sides,” he explains.
Opt for diapers that wick moisture from the skin
Because repeated exposure to moisture such as urine and fecal matter can lead to diaper rash and infection, Ingber says to opt for adult diapers with a soft, breathable lining that tracks and wicks moisture from the skin.
Adopt a trial-and-error approach
Patience is key when shopping for an adult diaper. It may take some trial and error to find a diaper that meets your expectations for fit and performance.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider one of the products listed below. All these adult diapers come with high ratings and reviews, and you can purchase them easily online.
To help you get a jump-start on finding an adult diaper to fit your needs, we read product reviews, talked to experts, and considered user experiences for a variety of styles and products. Our product vetting process also includes reviews by highly qualified medical professionals.
After careful consideration, we chose five of the top picks for adult diapers, each representing a different category. We looked for features such as cost, ease of use, availability for purchase, comfort, and absorption. We also included expert tips for treating — and preventing — a diaper rash at home.
- $ = under $1 per diaper
- $$ = $1–$1.50 per diaper
- $$$ = over $1.50 per diaper
Best adult diaper for absorbency
Tranquility SmartCore Disposable Brief
Pros: works for both urinary and fecal incontinence, absorbent enough for day and nighttime wear, and ideal for extended wear time, such as during travel
Cons: bulkier fit, higher cost than some daytime products
The Tranquility SmartCore is a premium quality super absorbent diaper with a high capacity that works for both urinary and fecal incontinence.
Since it comes in a brief style with adjustable tabs, it fits snug around the waist to help prevent leaks. It also has cuffs around the leg openings that help channel moisture to the absorbent core of the diaper. The breathable side panels help keep skin dry and fresh, which is key for preventing skin problems.
This product is ideal for people on bed rest and those being cared for by a caregiver, especially since it has wetness indicators that turn from yellow to blue, clearly indicating when a change is due.
Best adult diaper for daytime activity
NorthShore GoSupreme Pull-on Underwear
Pros: comfortable with a close fit, wetness indicator to show when it’s time to change, latex-free, absorbent enough for both day and nighttime use
Cons: expensive, size up since they run small, bulkier than a moderate-coverage diaper
Designed for both urinary and fecal incontinence, the GoSupreme Pull-On is an excellent choice for active adults who need maximum protection.
Appropriate for both men and women, the GoSupreme comes in a wide range of sizes from small to XXL. The unique design allows for a snug fit around the legs, which helps prevent leaking. The maximum absorbency means you can be on the go for up to 8 hours.
The sizing seems to run a bit different than other brands, but you can request some free samples from NorthShore’s customer service department if you are unsure which size to order.
Best adult diaper for postpartum and postmenopausal incontinence
Always Discreet Underwear
Pros: highly absorbent, low rate of leaks, locks away odor, reportedly very comfortable
Cons: reports that perfume used to mask odor is too strong
Due to hormonal and structural changes, a leaky bladder can occur for those entering menopausal years, or those who have given birth. While this can be frustrating (seriously, leaking blood and urine at the same time just feels like too much), there are options for discreet protection that won’t have you changing a pad every hour or two.
Always Discreet Underwear are absorbent enough to handle daytime and nighttime moderate urinary incontinence while being unnoticeable beneath clothing. They also help absorb bleeding that can occur following childbirth or during perimenopause.
They have a contoured fit designed to hug your hips for underwear-like comfort. Plus, they come in a variety of sizes from small to XXL, which is helpful for the postpartum period.
Best overnight adult diaper
Tranquility Premium Overnight Disposable Absorbent Underwear
Pros: easy to remove, inner and outer leg cuffs for comfort and leak reduction, good odor control, quick absorbing
Cons: smaller sizes don’t absorb as much as the larger sizes
Waking up in the night due to accidents can be very distressing, and low sleep quality affects every other part of life. So, ensuring a leak-free night is especially important for ourselves or our loved ones.
Tranquility Premium Overnight Absorbent Underwear are our top pick for overnight adult diapers, due to a very high rate of positive reviews and an arsenal of features that ensure they do the job. Affordable and absorbent, this pull-on is appropriate for both urinary and fecal incontinence and can hold up to a whopping 34 ounces of liquid.
Designed as a pull-on style, they also come with tear-away side seams for easy removal, which may be especially helpful for people who have difficulty standing up.
Best adult diaper for men
Depend Real Fit Incontinence Underwear for Men
Pros: relatively affordable, comfortable, easy to wear with jeans and slacks
Cons: sizing only up to XL with a maximum weight of 260 pounds
Depend is one of the most well-known brands in adult diapers and absorbent undergarments. Their new style, the Real Fit Incontinence Brief is an excellent choice for men who need moderate coverage but want maximum comfort and mobility to match a busy lifestyle.
The pull-up style undergarment is made of a cotton-like fabric that’s soft but also durable. Plus, the stretch waistband provides a secure fit, and the breathable material makes it ideal for daytime wear.
|Tranquility SmartCore Disposable Brief||$$||absorbency|
|Northshore GoSupreme Pull-On Underwear||$$$||daytime activity|
|Always Discreet Underwear||$||postpartum & menopausal incontinence|
|Tranquility Premium Overnight Disposable Absorbent Underwear||$$||overnight wear|
|Depend Real Fit Incontinence Underwear for Men||$||men, active lifestyle|
Diaper rash is something that most people wearing absorbent undergarments will experience at some point. The good news is there are ways to prevent it from happening.
The first step, says Ingber, is to change diapers every 4 to 6 hours, or when they become soiled.
“The main thing we worry about in adults who are incontinent are pressure sores, skin irritation, infections, and uncomfortable diaper rash,” says Ingber. That’s why minimizing contact between wet diapers and skin is important to prevent discomfort and skin breakdown.
Keeping your skin healthy is another key to preventing diaper rash. Ingber recommends using gentle, mild soaps like Dove, or even simply allowing warm water to run over the area and patting it dry.
“If the skin stays wet and moist, this can be a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria,” he says. Using a barrier such as a diaper rash cream with zinc oxide can also be very effective in preventing skin irritation.
In most cases, you can treat a mild diaper rash at home with an over-the-counter treatment.
“Desitin and antifungal creams (made for yeast infections) are effective for treating diaper rash,” said Dr. Mehran Movassaghi, a urologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. Products that contain zinc oxide (such as Desitin) work well to combat rashes.
To effectively treat a diaper rash, Movassaghi suggests changing the diaper frequently, always changing them when there is stool, and using an antifungal powder to keep things dry and minimize fungal infections.
“Mild itching is common with diaper rashes, but if it isn’t improving, we worry that patients will scratch to the point where they will infect the rash or damage their skin,” says Ingber.
Symptoms that warrant a trip to a doctor
You can treat most diaper rashes at home. However, Movassaghi says if there’s a skin breakdown, a visit to a doctor is needed. Skin breakdown includes redness that doesn’t go away, raw patches, oozing, bleeding, or sores.
Other symptoms that warrant a trip to the doctor include:
- a rash that worsens or doesn’t improve in three days
- a rash that is oozing or bleeding
- a rash that causes pain or burning
- running a fever, which for an adult is a temperature exceeding 99 to 99.5°F (37.2–37.5°C)
What is a bariatric diaper?
A bariatric diaper is designed to fit larger adults and includes sizes such as 4XL and 5XL.
Which adult diaper is the most absorbent?
Typically, adult diapers labeled for overnight use will have the highest absorption capacity, since they are designed for longer periods of wear. For daily use with the highest absorption, the Tranquility SmartCore Brief was our top pick.
What sizes do adult diapers come in?
Sizes usually range from XS to 2XL for regular adult diapers, or up to 5XL in bariatric diapers. Each brand will have a size chart, usually showing waist measurements in inches, so knowing your waist measurement can help ensure the correct fit.
Does insurance cover adult diapers?
While Medicaid may offer financial assistance with adult incontinence products, most insurance plans (including Medicare) will not. It may be worth a call to your insurance company just to be sure though, and you may be able to use HSA or FSA funds to purchase these products.
Finding the right adult diaper or absorbent undergarment that fits your needs may take a bit of trial and error. Once you find your match, staying dry during the day and night becomes a lot easier.
If you’re not sure which diaper to choose or you have questions about how to make them work for you, talk with your doctor for product recommendations.