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Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

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Bladder Control Protection for Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence and Odor Control

Most incontinence pads, liners, and disposable underwear feature some type of odor control. Often, the materials are treated with a natural odor-absorbing compound such as baking soda. Sometimes, though, manufacturers add fragrance to the pad, liner, or garment, and while some people find this pleasant, others find it causes skin irritation. Additionally, if you have sensitive skin, even odor control compounds can cause you problems.

If this is a problem for you, look for products that are fragrance-free and contain no chemicals for odor control.

If you accidentally leak urine onto a garment or furniture there are several products you can use -- sprays and special detergents -- that remove urine stains and odors. Most are sold in pharmacies in the incontinence section. Some can be found in mail order health catalogs or online.

Choosing Your Product Style

Pads and liners come in a variety of shapes and sizes to make it easier to find the right fit for almost every body shape and almost every lifestyle.

Liners are generally wider and longer than pads and offer better "front-to-back" protection. Pads are usually curved. Many contain elastic gussets on the sides to cradle your body and help keep leaks from rolling over the edge.

There's also a range of disposable undergarments with built-in protection -- not just in the crotch, but throughout the entire garment. Styles range from pull-ons with elasticized legs and waist resembling a traditional cloth panty to underwear that slips on like a "diaper" and uses Velcro or adhesive tabs for a customized fit. You can also find open-sided "thong style" panties held together by straps in the front and back that ride on top the hip bone.

Men also have the option of choosing "guards" -- pads designed around a man's anatomy and worn inside regular underwear. They're held in place by adhesive tabs pressed against the fabric. A variation known as a "drip collector" allows the penis to be placed inside a protective, absorbent "sack" that also absorbs urine flow.

Although disposable protection is the most costly, it can be the most sanitary -- and the easiest to use -- when you're not at home. Still, many people find that when they are at home, reusable, washable pads, liners, and absorbent garments are less expensive and feel more like "real" underwear.

Whatever you wear, it's important to follow a realistic changing schedule based on your urinary habits. You don't have to change absorbent products as soon as you experience urine loss. But you shouldn't wear them until they are so soaked that your skin feels wet.

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