What is the best way to dispose of adult diapers?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I need advice on disposal of adult diapers. Is it okay to just put them in the regular garbage headed for the landfill?

Also, is there a recommended treatment for diaper rash?

Expert Answer

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

Thank you for your environmentally sensitive question. It is all right to put disposable adult diapers in the trash that goes to the landfill. Although, most brands are made from mostly biodegradable material, there is still some plastic covering as well as the fumes of human waste. Recent studies have shown that adult disposable diapers are more environmentally safe than the cloth ones due the energy required for frequent laundering.

Also, environmentally it helps to understand the deep ecology. Today older adults are more within the mainstream of life. Elders are working, volunteering, traveling, dancing and generally living more active lifestyles,no longer hindered by incontinence problems. Our society has gone from diapers to pull ups, which are like regular panties,to briefs,and special incontinence pads.

We have the support of disposable incontinence products to live life with more dignity even with infirmities.

Also, the absorbent material that goes into disposable products keeps the skin drier. disposables need to be changed less often. Also, they do more to prevent diaper rash.

Prevention of diaper rash can best be accomplished by highly absorbent products so that the skin does not get so wet.

When you do have to change them, you can quickly pull on a pair of thin gloves, wipe the skin with special wipes. Then use a warm cloth, dry off and put on a moisture barrier.

If a rash appears after this, wash the area with warm soapy water instead of using the wipe. A cream made with zinc oxide might help the healing. Some say it helps to leave the diaper off and let the air dry the skin. But a special note for an elder who suffers from dementia. Do not leave the incontinence pad or pull up off. Without the safety and familiarity of her incontinence pad, she might suffer a catastrophic reaction.

If the diaper rash does not clear up right away, it might indicate that there is a yeast or bacterial infection or even an allergic reaction. You should contact your health professional for further guidance.