How often should adult diapers be changed to avoid a UTI?

7 answers | Last updated: Oct 21, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother is now wearing adult diapers. She's recently been treated for a urinary tract infection. How ofter should her diapers be changed?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Urinary tract infections(UTI)are a common problem for many women, young and old. However, in the elderly they can be a big problem as the symptoms are often hard to recognize and they can be difficult to treat. The risk of getting a UTI becomes even higher as incontinence worsens. To try and reduce this risk, here are some recommendations:

1) Change her adult diapers (briefs) as soon as they become soiled or wet. If your mother does not wet her briefs often, then maybe you could switch her to pads or something smaller (especially if her leakage is small). Keep in ming the briefs do not allow for good air circulation, which can lead to skin irritation and rashes. 2) Make sure she is drinking enough fluids. She should drink 6 to 8 glasses (8 ounces) of liquid daily to make sure she is well hydrated. This encourages more urine production, which will help flush bacteria out of her bladder.
3) People suggest drinking cranberry juice helps, and some research shows it does help reduce the risk of UTI. She can try drinking about 3 eight ounce glasses of PURE cranberry juice (not cocktail- look for 100% juice on the label). 4) After an incontinence episode, make sure she goes to the bathroom and sits on the toilet to make sure her bladder is truly empty. Then, good, gentle cleansing after each incontinence episode is advisable. I recommend pouring some warm water over the area to cleanse (you can use a clean cup), then patting dry with toilet paper or a towel to dry. No rubbing! (If not at home, you can use cleansing cloths/ baby wipes. Make sure they are hypoallergenic and unscented. I would not use these all the time though, as they still can dry out and irritate the skin). 5) To try and help her incontinence, see if reminding her to go to the toilet her more often might help. I usually recommend on arising, before and after meals, and before bed. If this isn't often enough (she still has accidents), then try every two hours.

Hope this advice helps. You can also check out the many websites devoted to UTI's out there, as they may have more helpful suggestions for you.

Community Answers

Martinsalice81 answered...

This is a good article that encompasses each and every details on using adult diaper. Especially I liked the concept of consuming cranberry juice for reducing the risk of UTI. I am really benefited after reading this article. You can also check out good articles on the same topic in another blog with url

Patrick answered...

Thanks for this.

Sudhi answered...

Thank you. Thsi is for my ma in law and she has incontinence problems especially at night. Though we can use diapers it becomes difficult to change it at night once she catches her sleep, and secondly the number of times she discharges urine at night is a lot more than during day say 5-6 times.If we wake her every now and then ,then also it tends to spoil her sleep. Any suggestions for this? She is 92 and not bed ridden. Day time we take her every 2 hours to the wash room.

Healthy661 answered...

Hello there, I recently found a super absorbent overnight diaper called Tranquility All-Thru-The-Nite at This diaper holds about a quart of urine and really helps in not having to worry about night time changes. TotalHomeCareSupplies sells them by the case with free shipping, which helps me save! Link:

Hope this helps! Take care. Gina

Nurselmh answered...

Jennifer, although "people" suggest drinking cranberry juice and although some research suggests it reduces the occurrence of lower UTIs, evidence-based practice has shown that cranberry juice is not as effective as we once hoped in preventing UTIs. Normal urine pH is slightly acidic and the thinking was that creating a more acidic environment would inhibit and/or prevent bacterial growth. Doesn't have to be cranberry juice - any acidic substance can be used to alter pH, 1 gram of vitamin C by mouth daily can be used. However, most UTIs, about 90%, are caused by Escherichia coli, and this bacterium is acid resistant. We found that the benefits of cranberry juice, or other acidics, are MINIMAL, at best and this just isn't enough justification for me to recommend the use if it. One can drink it if one enjoys it but don't expect significant results.

Primobabe answered...

Sadly, UTIs are almost unavoidable after an elderly woman becomes fully incontinent. No matter how often you clean her and change her diaper, some fecal contamination will reach her urinary tract.

My mother (87-year-old and late-stage Alzheimer's) doesn't wear a diaper to bed. The nurses put an ultra-absorbent chux pad under her body and leave her naked, under the covers, from the waist down. Her private parts get some air, stay dry, and aren't trapped by a dirty diaper that doesn't "breath." She's now getting fewer rashes and UTIs.