At some point, many of us will find ourselves in the market for a discreet form of protection from leakage.
Whether your incontinence is a result of pregnancy, age, surgery, or other medical condition, wearing an adult diaper or absorbent undergarment can help you feel secure about leaving the house and going about your daily activities.
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 comments for a variety of styles and products.
After careful consideration, we chose five of the top picks for adult diapers, each representing a different category. We also included expert tips for treating — and preventing — a diaper rash at home.
What are adult diapers?
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 surgeries that cause temporary incontinence problems.
Types of adult diapers
Adult diapers come in two styles:
- Pull-up 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 with leaks.
What to look for when choosing an adult diaper
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 of these adult diapers come with high ratings and reviews and you can purchase them online.
- $ = under $1 per diaper
- $$ = $1–$1.50 per diaper
- $$$ = $1.50 and over per diaper
Best adult diaper for absorbency
Best adult diaper for daytime activity
Best adult diaper for postpartum and postmenopausal incontinence
Best overnight adult diaper
Pros: easy to remove, inner and outer leg cuffs for maximum comfort, good odor control, quick-absorbing
Cons: Smaller sizes don’t absorb as much as the larger sizes.
These are hands-down the top pick for overnight adult diapers. Affordable and absorbent, the Tranquility Overnight disposable pull-up is appropriate for both urinary and fecal incontinence, and they can hold up to 34 ounces of liquid.
Designed as a pull-up style, they also come with tear-away side seams for easy removal, which transforms them into a tab-style diaper for people who can’t stand up.
Best adult diaper for men
Pros: affordable, comfortable, easy to wear with jeans and slacks
Cons: only goes 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 their 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.
How to avoid diaper rash
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 help to prevent diaper rash.
How to treat diaper rash at home
In most cases, you can treat a mild diaper rash at home with an over-the-counter treatment.
“Desitin and other 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 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.
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 99–99.5°F (37.2–37.5°C)
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 to your doctor for product recommendations.