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Disposable Underpads

How to Choose a Disposable Underpad

Choosing a disposable underpad doesn't need to be complicated. Simply choose your desired absorption, back sheet materiel and size. Disposable underpads are found in just about any health clinic, hospital, or hospice home and come in various sizes, absorbencies and capacities to meet patient needs and finances. Absorbent pads are necessary to keep urine, feces, or any bit of body fluid from damaging skin, soiling bedsheets, staining furniture or flooring (they are popular not only for human incontinence, but for pets used as pee pads). When choosing a disposable underpad it is important to consider absorption, wicking, backsheet material and size.

There is a good deal of choices out there, and at Vitality Medical, within the catalog, there are quite a number of brands and features to look at. So, with this brief we will run down some of the major disposable underpad features in decisions steps and describe the logic behind choosing those features.

Step 1: Identify the Absorption Needed

  • Fluff filled pads have light absorption and is good for changing pads or pet pads.
  • Polymer Pads contain high absorbing polymers, which is good for moderate to super absorbing capacity.
  • Polymer and fluff combo pads are softer and more comfortable, which is good for moderate to super absorption needs.
  • Look to the manufacturer's description describing the pad's ability to wick moisture, this property keeps urine away from the pad surface so as to not harm the patient's skin.

Absorption refers to the amount and concentration of water absorbing polymer contained inside the underpad. The more polymer and concentration of the polymer the more absorption capacity. Larger pads do not always contain more absorbing polymer so choose a disposable underpad based on its absorption capacity not just its size.

When choosing the level of absorption consider the volume and flow rate of the fluid landing on the pad. A very small pet only produces a small amount of volume and flow rate and a light absorption pad would likely suffice. A potty training toddler would likely require a Moderate Absorbency pad whereas an adult experiencing a full bladder loss would require a Heavy to Super Absorbency pad. Some factors may allow a Moderate Absorbency Pad to be used if the person is diapered and changed regularly. However, if you are using a moderate absorbency pad and it's not enough, don't double them up. The most effective solution is to use the correct absorbency for your needs.

Step 2: Consider Backing Sheet Material and Its Different Uses

  • The plastic backing for temporary use or changing pads.
  • Breathable pads for extended use so skin is kept dry and prevents irritation and breakdown. These are ideal for healthy skin.
  • Air permeable pads for maximum dryness or for use on air beds when skin has already started breaking down and action is being taken to reverse the damage.

Step 3: Consider Size, Backing Sheet Strength, and Color

  • The pad should extend beyond the containment area (width and breadth of body or buttocks) by 6 to 10 inches on either side.
  • Note that color is typically a personal choice, yet some manufacturers use color to indicate absorption ability and backing strength so it is easy to choose say if the caregiver were needing different pads for different patients with incontinence.
  • Strong disposable pad backing is recommend for those patients who may need to be moved and placed onto a pad so it does not tear or shear easily. Look for such terms as "Heavy Duty Backing".

Applying the Disposable Underpad

The disposable underpads are often a daily necessity for those who have incontinence, yet luckily they are quite easy to use. The pads are commonly referred to as chux, or bed pads, and are simply placed on the bed or area of furniture where the patient will sit or lay down and unfolded from the center. The pad is unfolded and opened out so as to cover several inches beyond the area of contact. For instance, if the patient is lying on a bed, one would place the pad so as that each side of the body is between six and 10 inches from the edge. The chux should be positioned under the pelvis just below the lower back to where the pad extends out under the patient's mid-thigh area.

Depending on the absorption rating, the bed pads will hold and lock in urine while keeping the skin relatively dry. Check the moisture level periodically, follow the instructions given by the manufacturer as to know when the pad indicates full saturation. When fully saturated, dispose of the pad (or chuck it -- how the chux name came about) and lay a fresh bed pad down afterward.

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Underpads for incontinence are also commonly called chux. The benefits of underpads for incontinence are the multiple layers to prevent wetness from spreading to the bed mattress, furniture or wheelchair.