Adult Incontinence Options

What to Know About Adult Diapers, Pads, Liners, and Guards

We’ve talked in the past few posts about how confusing it can be to purchase adult incontinence care garments. This post will build on some of the great comments I’ve gotten and will, I hope, help further distinguish exactly what’s for sale at local mass-market and drug stores and in the online world of incontinence care products.


Adapted from feminine hygiene pads, most of the incontinence care pads you see on today’s shelves are lightweight, plastic-backed pads about 8–12 inches long and 3 or 4 inches wide. They’re perfect to put inside normal underwear, which makes them a great product for people who need “on-the-go” protection from minor urinary accidents. Most pads are made for women with light-to-moderate urinary or stress incontinence. The majority of pads have a sticky substance on the plastic backing to help keep the pad in place, and some pads now employ standing leg cuffs, an important feature that will help ensure that these absorbent pads don’t leak on your clothing. Some of the most popular brand names are Poise, Dignity and, of course, Secure.

Guards and Liners

In some ways, guards are the male version of the female incontinence pad. Originally marketed by manufacturing giant Kimberly-Clark, with more masculine terminology (think “en garde!” ), these incontinence care products are a little longer than a regular feminine pad. The placement of the Super Absorbent Polymer (SAP) is different as well, suited to the male anatomy. Guards work well for light-to-moderate stress incontinence.

Liners have fallen into the same marketing category as guards, as they are essentially the same product. Liners are generally more rectangular than guards, which often (particularly in the past) have a more contoured shape.

Both liners and guards can be inserted into larger incontinence briefs (okay, I will call them adult diapers!) to act as a “diaper doubler.” These doublers improve the absorbency and long-lasting effects of the diaper.

In my next installment, we’ll take a look at the two major types of adult diapers most commonly sold on the shelves: pull-on protective underwear and tape-on adult diapers (briefs).

Until then, be well.

Your Partner in Comfort,


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Learn everything about adult diapers by visiting Everything About Incontinence.


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Gary is an adviser to online incontinence care products provider