Disposable underpads are no longer widely used for managing incontinence and are more suited for use during procedures, such as enemas.
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Disposable underpads are also known as disposable bedpads, bed sheets or chair pads.
They are available with different colour plastic backings (usually blue or green) and are made from similar materials to other disposable pads.
They are usually only available in one absorbency, although absorbency may vary between different makes of pad.
Some designs may also have tuck in wings. These are designed to hold them firmly in place on the bed.
Click on Pads for general information about disposable pads.
There is very little current research evidence about disposable underpads which probably reflects the fact that they have become less popular for incontinence in recent years - although there are some older studies 123
Tests have been used to compare disposable underpad performance in the laboratory with acceptability for these pads by users 4 These could be used in the future to rank the performance of disposable underpads if there was sufficient demand.
Disposable underpads have a tendency to move out of position and become folded and creased if sat on or used in bed.
They are generally considered only suitable as temporary bed or chair protection during procedures (e.g. enemas) or, for example, when using a urinal.
They may be suitable for occasional use as a backup to a body-worn product when you are away from home or if you do not have access to washing facilities.
They are a non-sterile item and, when used in hospitals, there have been concerns that they may present a risk of cross-infection 567. This is thought unlikely to be a health problem unless you have reduced immunity, for example, during chemotherapy. A recent outbreak of infection in a hospital ward was attributed to use of disposable underpads containing wood pulp 8
They are not absorbent enough to be used as sole protection for bladder leakage and move around too much to be used reliably for bowel leakage.
Because the material is relatively light-weight they tend to fold up and crease beneath the user. This could potentially cause sore skin and also means that the product is not in the correct position if a leak occurs from the body-worn pad.
When placed on a chair, they show the user to be incontinent and require clothes to be pulled up (or removed) which is generally considered to be unacceptable for dignity.
People with bladder and / or bowel leakage do sometimes use disposable underpads as backup protection in conjunction with a body-worn pad. However they are not recommended for use as sole protection.
You can read more information about products for bowel leakage.
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