Can Wearing Incontinence Pads Cause UTI + What To Do About It? (2023)

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most common conditions in the U.S. — especially for women. Around 50 to 60 percent of women will develop at least one during their lives, and women aged 65 and older are twice as likely to get a UTI. Many things increase your risk of UTIs, and living with urinary orbowel incontinence is one of them. Read on to find out the answer to the question of “Can incontinent pads cause a UTI?”

Can Wearing Incontinence Pads Cause UTI?

Can Wearing Incontinence Pads Cause UTI + What To Do About It? (1)

There haven’t been many large scientific studies to determine if incontinence pads cause UTIs. One 2010 study involving 153 older adults in nursing homes found that residents who wore incontinence padswere more likely to get urinary tract infections than those who didn’t. However, the small sample size makes it impossible to account for men and women not living in long-term care facilities.

While these urinary tract infections may have been from incontinence pads, there might be other risk factors. It could be that caregivers weren’t providing enough assistance with personal hygiene or the participants had other conditions linked to UTIs, such as diabetes.

Without more research, we can’t know if incontinence pads directly cause UTIs.

Why Do UTIs Happen?

UTIs can happen when germs enter the urethra — the opening that urine travels through to leave the body. Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the most common bacteria that lead to UTIs. This bacteria is often present in fecal matter, and traces of it may linger on the skin around the anus.

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If bacteria from the rectal area travel into the urethra, the body tries to fight off the germs. The immune system becomes activated and releases chemicals that cause inflammation. In some cases, the immune response may be enough to eliminate the bacteria. Infection occurs when the immune system is overwhelmed, leading to increased urinary frequency and pain when urinating.

How Are Incontinence Pads and UTIs Connected?

Although we can’t say for sure that incontinence pads cause UTIs, different factors may be linked. Read on to learn more about correlations between incontinence pads and UTIs.

Irritation Risk

Anything that leads to swelling and irritation in the private area can make UTIs more likely to occur. If the skin around the urethra becomes inflamed, there’s a greater chance E. coli bacteria or another type of bacteria will make itself at home there. This means skin irritation caused by allergic reactions like contact dermatitis from soaps, laundry detergents, orpoor-fitting underwear can make people more likely to get UTIs.

Both incontinence and maxi pads could potentially irritate the skin. If a pad doesn’t fit securely, it might rub when you move and cause chafing. Also, thick pads pressing against the private area could produce friction, leaving skin inflamed.

Increased Moisture

Bacteria thrive in moist environments. That’s why your doctor might recommend breathable cotton underwear over synthetic fabrics if you’re prone to UTIs.

Absorbent products could encourage the growth of bacteria when damp. Not changing incontinence and menstrual pads often enough can allow moist conditions to persist, increasing the risk of bacterial infection.

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Plus, all incontinence products have maximum absorbency levels. Once they reach their limit, they become oversaturated, and urinary leaks can occur. These conditions could lead to damp undergarments and a greater risk of UTIs.

Poor Hygiene

Elderly patients with urinary incontinence may be more likely to get UTIs when wearing absorbent pads. Failing to clean the genital area when changing pads or wiping from back to front when cleaning could provide opportunities for bacteria to enter the lower urinary tract. Even germs lingering on unwashed hands might lead to an infection.

How Often Should Incontinence Pads Be Changed?

Can Wearing Incontinence Pads Cause UTI + What To Do About It? (2)

Even if you don’t experience leaks or an accident, it’s a good idea to change your incontinence pads or adult diapers every six to eight hours. If you’re caring for a loved one who has trouble communicating, check every two to three hours to see if theirincontinence pads need to be changed.

Is It Bad to Wear Incontinence Pads 24/7?

Generally, it’s not a good idea to wear the same incontinence pad for 24 hours — especially if you get frequent UTIs. The same is true for panty liners and menstrual pads. Changing clean incontinence pads a few times a day keeps your skin drier.

There’s no evidence that it’s harmful to wear incontinence pads all day, as long as you change your protection occasionally and practice good personal hygiene.

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How to Prevent UTIs When Wearing Incontinence Pads

Can Wearing Incontinence Pads Cause UTI + What To Do About It? (3)

While it may not be possible to prevent urinary tract infections completely, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. Here are a fewUTI prevention tips to try.

Change Your Incontinence Protection Regularly

Changing your incontinence protection periodically, even if it’s dry, can help keep your skin healthier. Regularly changing your pads can also help with another common problem:unpleasant odors due to incontinence.

Choose the Right Pads

When shopping for hygiene products, choose pads with the right level of absorbency for your needs. Because Market offers three absorbency options: moderate pads that hold 1 cup of liquid, maximum pads that hold 2 cups of liquid, and overnight pads that hold 3 cups of liquid. Wearing pads absorbent enough for your incontinence issue will keep you drier throughout the day.

Wear pads developed specifically for incontinence. While they don’t appear that different in concept, maxi pads and menstrual pads can’t draw fluid away from the skin as incontinence pads do. Fit also matters; look for pads with a bulk-free fit that stays in place when you move.

Stay Hydrated

Urine is how bacteria get flushed out of your urinary tract, and not drinking enough fluids leads to a decrease in urination. You should talk to your healthcare provider about how much water you should drink to maintain urinary health.

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Go to the Bathroom When You Need To

Trying to hold your urine so that you don’t wet your incontinence pad isn’t a good idea. Waiting a long time to urinate when you have the urge to go promotes bacterial growth. It can also lead to stretching of the bladder, which could worsen incontinence symptoms — especially if yourpelvic floor muscles are weak.

Don’t ignore the feeling of a full bladder. If you need to go and can’t reach the bathroom, rely on your incontinence protection and change your pad as soon as possible.

Adopt Good Hygiene Practices

Follow these simple steps when changing your incontinence pads:

  1. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using warm water and soap.
  2. Remove your incontinence pad and place it in a biodegradable disposal bag.
  3. Cleanse your skin with a no-rinse cleansing spray or flushable wipes.
  4. Use a front-to-back motion when cleaning your private parts. This habit can help prevent fecal matter from infecting your urethra.
  5. Allow your skin to air dry, or pat it dry with a soft towel.
  6. Apply abarrier cream to protect your skin from moisture.
  7. Put on a fresh incontinence pad.

Take Care of Your Skin

Incontinence skin care can help reduce the risk of UTIs by keeping your genital area healthy. Inflammation and irritation can make you more vulnerable to bacteria, but barrier creams and wipes protect your skin from moisture, making it less likely to become irritated. If you do develop incontinence-related irritation, use asoothing cream to support the healing process.

Try a Supplement

A urinary health supplement supports urinary health over time.Because UTI Health Supplement contains cranberry juice powder, d-mannose, hibiscus, and dandelion extract, which work together to bolster the natural defenses in your urinary tract.

Talk to Your Medical Provider

If recurrent urinary tract infections persist, talk to your doctor. Other issues like estrogen deficiency and chronic medical conditions can increase the risk of UTIs. Seek medical help to identify an underlying problem contributing to the problem. Your doctor can determine if treatments for urinary incontinence could help reduce symptoms.

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Does your loved one struggle with incontinence? Take our bladder protection quiz and get a free sample pack to try.

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How do I prevent UTI when wearing incontinence pads? ›

Preventing Urinary Tract Infections

Remove incontinence products from front to back. Wipe the genital area from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria. Use a gentle, unscented soap to wash the area and rinse well with warm water. Keep the area dry.

Can incontinence pads give you a UTI? ›

Patients with a given PPD presented a wide range of incontinence volumes. Conclusion: the use of absorbent pads is associated with an increased risk of developing UTIs.

Can wearing a pad everyday cause UTI? ›

Additionally, sanitary napkins used when a woman is menstruating can promote the growth of bacteria and may lead to a UTI. To prevent this, using tampons or making sure to change the sanitary napkin frequently may help.

How do you treat a UTI naturally? ›

Home remedies to get rid of a UTI without antibiotics
  1. Try cranberries. ...
  2. Drink plenty of water. ...
  3. Pee when you need to. ...
  4. Take probiotics. ...
  5. Get more vitamin C. ...
  6. Wear loose clothing. ...
  7. Consider switching birth control. ...
  8. Use a heating pad.

How often should you change incontinence pads? ›

It is recommended to change incontinence pads around four to six times per day. You should always change your incontinence pad when it's wet, as wearing it for longer can contribute to bad odours, poor hygiene and skin conditions.

What soap is best for UTI? ›

Avoid harsh or scented soaps: Instead, go for milder soaps like Dove Sensitive or Cetaphil. Scented products of any sort can irritate vaginal tissues, including feminine hygiene sprays, bubble baths, perfumed bath oils, scented powders, scented tampons, and scented pads.

Can wearing pads all the time cause infection? ›

Trapped moisture provides a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus, and wearing a pad for too long can lead to an infection, including a yeast infection. A damp pad and friction can also cause irritation or the dreaded pad rash and make you more susceptible to infection.

What not to do when you have a UTI? ›

5 Things to Avoid When You Have a UTI
  • Avoid Foods and Beverages that Can Worsen UTI Symptoms. ...
  • Avoid Delay in Going to the Doctor When you Have a UTI. ...
  • Avoid Thinking You Can Quit the Prescribed Antibiotics Early. ...
  • Avoid Insufficient Water Intake. ...
  • Avoid Delays in Urinating.
Mar 9, 2018

Should I wear a pad if I have a UTI? ›

Choose sanitary pads instead of tampons, which some doctors believe make infections more likely. Change your pad each time you use the bathroom. DO NOT douche or use feminine hygiene sprays or powders. As a general rule, DO NOT use any product containing perfumes in the genital area.

Is it OK to wear the same pad the entire day? ›

It's not a good idea to go an entire school day without changing pads, pantiliners, or tampons. No matter how light your flow is, or even if there is no flow, bacteria can build up. Changing your pad every 3 or 4 hours (more if your period is heavy) is good hygiene and helps prevent bad odors.

What to do when you feel a UTI coming on? ›

If you think you have a UTI, the first thing you should do is schedule an appointment with your OBGYN or primary care physician. Many women will try to self-treat it, or worse, just hope it goes away on its own.

Why do I keep getting urinary tract infection? ›

Having a suppressed immune system or chronic health condition can make you more prone to recurring infections, including UTIs. Diabetes increases your risk for a UTI, as does having certain autoimmune diseases, neurological diseases and kidney or bladder stones.

What is the fastest way to cure a UTI naturally? ›

  3. DON'T “HOLD IT”. ...
  5. EAT GARLIC. ...

What gets rid of UTI fast? ›

UTIs usually require antibiotics to be treated, meaning you'll need to visit a healthcare provider. Telehealth services can make it easier to schedule an appointment. Getting started on your antibiotic right away and drinking plenty of water are some of the most important steps in helping to get rid of a UTI fast.

Can you get rid of a UTI alone? ›

While some UTIs may go away without antibiotic treatment, Dr. Pitis cautions against foregoing antibiotics. “While it's possible for the body to clear a mild infection on its own in some cases, it can be very risky not to treat a confirmed UTI with antibiotics,” says Dr. Pitis.

Is there an alternative to incontinence pads? ›

Other useful incontinence products for more severe leaks include urinals (devices that collect urine), or sheaths and drainage systems (if you have a penis). A variety of incontinence bedding is also available, such as washable bed pads that sit on top of the mattress and soak up any overnight leaks.

Do pads soak pee? ›

You may have tried using sanitary pads to manage urine leaks. However, these products aren't made to absorb urine. So they don't work as well for that purpose. Pads made for urine leaks can soak up a lot more fluid than sanitary pads.

Are pads or briefs better for incontinence? ›

Should I use pads or disposable briefs for my incontinence? Incontinence pads are an economic, comfortable, discreet solution for many customers, but if you need more absorbency or prefer the security that full protection provides, a brief might be the best option.

What can I take daily to prevent UTI? ›

Vitamin C

Vitamin C prevents bacteria from growing by making urine more acidic. You can take a 500- to 1,000-milligram daily vitamin C supplement. You can add vitamin C-rich foods to your diet, like oranges, lemons, grapefruit, strawberries, and leafy green vegetables.

Can azo get rid of UTI? ›

No, AZO Urinary Tract Defense does not cure a urinary tract infection. Its purpose is to keep you comfortable and to control the infection until you can see your primary care provider. Your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic medication capable of eliminating the bacteria responsible for the infection.

Can you treat a UTI without seeing a doctor? ›

You CAN get help without going to a doctor's office.

And if you need a prescription, you can have it in your hands that same day. “When it comes to UTIs, there are tests a doctor can run – a urinalysis and culture, which can get quite expensive.

Can wearing a pad too long cause irritation? ›

But the long hours of wearing pads and changing them can lead to itching, swelling, redness, and even rashes owing to the material of the pad, sweating, fragrance, and moisture. These rashes may even get worse with continuous friction caused by the pad, especially around the thigh region.

How many pads a day is too much? ›

Typically, if a woman saturates more than 1 -2 pads or tampons per hour for several hours, it is considered too much bleeding. However, this definition can be a little vague. Some women change pads/tampons frequently through out the day regardless of the amount of bleeding.

How can you tell the difference between a UTI and a bladder infection? ›

Bladder infections are a type of UTI, but not all urinary tract infections are bladder infections. A UTI is defined as an infection in one or more places in the urinary tract—the ureters, kidneys, urethra, and/or bladder. A bladder infection is a UTI that's only located in the bladder.

What probiotic is best for UTI? ›

Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14 (previously called L. fermentum RC-14) seemed to be the most effective among the studied lactobacilli for the prevention of UTIs. L.

What is the best sleeping position for UTI? ›

The most comfortable sleeping position for anybody struggling with a UTI would be any that put the least pressure on your pelvic muscles, such as the foetal position, or if you prefer sleeping on your back, spreading your legs apart.

What are the side effects of pads? ›

Wearing a sanitary or maxi pad can sometimes leave something unwanted behind — a rash. This can lead to itching, swelling, and redness. Sometimes the rash can be the result of irritation from something the pad is made from. Other times the combination of moisture and heat can contribute to bacterial buildup.

Can you use toilet paper as a pad overnight? ›

Fold together a thick stack of paper towels or toilet paper.

Paper towels are more absorbant and durable than toilet paper, so they're better to use if you can find them. If not, though, toilet paper will work—you just might have to change the pad more often.

What is the side effect of using tissue paper as a pad? ›

“The use of tissue paper as a sanitary pad could lead to severe health complications as infections which pass through the vagina cavity can ascend to other parts of the genital tract.

At what point should you go to the doctor for a UTI? ›

It's a good idea to see your GP if you think you might have a UTI, particularly if: you have symptoms of an upper UTI (see above) the symptoms are severe or getting worse. the symptoms haven't started to improve after a few days.

What will a urologist do for recurrent UTIs? ›

In order to treat recurring UTIs, a urologist typically makes an attempt to identify the underlying reasons why this is happening. Testing may involve a cystoscopy, a CT scan of the urinary tract, and a urine culture.

How often is too often to get a UTI? ›

(3) When a UTI occurs more than twice in six months, or three or more times in one year, it is considered to be a recurrent urinary infection, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

What is the best antibiotic for UTI in elderly female? ›

Therefore, trimethoprim–sulfamethoxazole should be the preferred empiric oral option for treatment of clinically suspected UTI in older adults.

Can wearing Depends cause UTI? ›

Any elderly person wearing a diaper is particularly susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs) because their diapers hold feces and urine close to their urethras, spreading bacteria into their urinary systems.

What should I wear for urinary incontinence? ›

Pads and pull-up pants

The most popular incontinence products are absorbent pads that are worn inside underwear to soak up urine. Pads and pull-up pants use the same technology as babies' nappies and have a "hydrophobic" layer which draws urine away from the surface of the product, so your skin stays dry.

What kind of yogurt is best for UTI? ›

DO eat probiotics — plain Greek yogurt and fermented food such as sauerkraut and pickles. They contain “good” bacteria that can help keep the bad bacteria at bay. DON'T eat a lot of acidic fruit, such as oranges, lemons or limes during the infection.

What causes recurrent UTI in elderly? ›

Why Do Seniors Get UTIs? Older adults are more vulnerable to UTIs, because as we age, we tend to have weaker muscles in our bladder and pelvic floor that can cause urine retention or incontinence. Whenever the urine stays in the urinary tract, there's a potential for bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, or E.

Can a UTI go away on its own? ›

Urologist Mark Perlmutter, M.D., says a UTI can go away on its own, but not every type of UTI and not every time. “Yes, a UTI could go away on its own, but some infections are different than others,” he says. “And if left untreated, it may linger longer.”

Will a UTI cure itself? ›

Can UTIs go away on their own? It is not uncommon for UTIs to go away on their own without the use of antibiotics. Some research states that up to 42% of uncomplicated UTIs resolve without medical treatment. However, keep in mind that there are risks to leaving UTIs untreated.


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