New Diaper Quality Standards Try to Put Lipstick on a Pig

Just before the holidays, the National Association for Continence announced that they had finalized the recommendations for quality performance standards for disposable adult absorbent products. These quality standards are being implemented by a 15 member council including representatives of all major absorbent manufacturers in the U.S., the non-wovens trade association, five state government agencies from all regions of the U.S., recognized nursing educators in continence care, family caregivers appointed by the National Family Caregivers Association.

The recommendations cover eight specific characteristics:

  1. Rewet rate – a measure of a product’s ability to withstand incontinent episodes between changes
  2. Rate of acquisition – a measure of the speed at which urine is drawn away from the skin
  3. Retention capacity – a measure of a product’s capacity to hold fluid without leaking
  4. Sizing options – ranging from youth and small adult to extra large and XX-large adult
  5. Safety – no components including additives that are listed in any Federal Regulatory Agency as being considered “unsafe”
  6. Presence of a closure system – allowing re-open ability
  7. Breathable zones – an acceptable minimum air flow in side “wings” of the product sufficient to release trapped body heat/gaseous body perspiration in pelvic region
  8. Performance of elastics – giving evidence of fit and functionality of containment of waste, without sacrificing comfort

Detailed steps of testing procedures are included among the recommendations, as are recommendations on how products should be submitted for independent laboratory testing and allowance for variation. Additional cost-saving suggestions are offered, such as encouraging states to share data of tested product. In early January, NAFC will be providing details to the Medicaid agencies of all 50 states.

As a company in the incontinence arena, I find these recommendations to be a bit like trying to put lipstick on a pig. Wearing absorbent products are quite simply bad for your health.

In general, absorbent products are made of hydrophilic materials which absorb urine and a hydrophobic external layer to hold the moisture inside and prevent leaks. The main positives for diapers are that they are relatively cheap, readily available and easy to use.

The price of most superabsorbents is between $0.44 and $0.86 per pad[i]. Pads should be changed 4-6 times a day[ii], meaning the annual expenditure for wearing absorbents could reach $4,402. Because absorbents aren’t generally covered by insurance, these costs are borne by the user.

The most common side effect of absorbents is Incontinence-Associated Dermatitis (IAD) which occurs in up to 25% of users[iii]. Continuous use of absorbents for as little as 5 days has been shown to cause increased sweat production and compromised skin barrier function[iv]. Continuous absorbent use is also associated with an increased risk of pressure ulcers[v].

Absorbents also have several more ineffable downsides – like the pervasive ammonia smell, the bulky heft visible under your clothes and the need to carry extra supplies whenever you leave the house.

So let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? No matter how many committees you have, recommendations you implement, a diaper, is a diaper, is a diaper. And why spend time and money trying to put lipstick on a pig when there’s already a healthier, cost effective option on the market?

There is literally nothing else out there like Men’s Liberty. It’s truly a product that changes people’s lives. Nearly 1.5 million Men’s Liberty units have been used without a single reportable adverse event caused by the device including UTI and skin injury. Compare that to other outdated managements devices like indwelling catheters, condom catheters or diapers which have astronomical infection rates that result in additional medications, hospitalizations and even death. There is, quite simply, no comparison. We are head and shoulders above the rest.

Men's LibertyThe most important features of Men’s Liberty are:

  • It’s completely external – There is nothing in Men’s Liberty which goes inside the body. This eliminates one of the primary infection paths you find with indwelling catheters. As a completely non-invasive product, Men’s Liberty is more comfortable, easier to apply, reduces the need for skilled nurses to manage incontinence and improves health outcomes.
  • It’s made from skin friendly hydrocolloid – hydrocolloid has been used in wound care for decades. It is safe, skin friendly, latex free and hypoallergenic. Quite simply, it’s better for people’s skin. It reduces or eliminates skin tears and injuries, all the while maintaining a secure seal for 24-48 hours.
  • It’s covered by Medicare, most state Medicaids, VA/TriCare, Workers Compensation and most private insurances. Most of our customers can get a healthier product for little to nothing out of pocket which helps their bottom line.


[i] Brazzelli et al. “Absorbent Products for Containing Urinary and/or Fecal Incontinence in Adults,” Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing, Jan. 2002: pp. 45-54.

[ii] Brazzelli et al. “Absorbent Products for Containing Urinary and/or Fecal Incontinence in Adults,” Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing, Jan. 2002: pp. 45-54.

[iii] Gray, M., “Optimal Management of Incontinence-Associated Dermatitis in the Elderly,” American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2010:00 (0).

[iv] Aly, R., Shirley, C., Cunico, B., et al, “Effect of Prolonged occlusion on the microbial flora, pH, carbon dioxide and transepidermal water loss on human skin,” Journal Investifative Dermatology, 1978; 71 (6): 378-81.

[v] BioDerm estimate, 2005, based on Pajk, Marilyn Pressure Sores. Merck Manual of Geriatrics Section 15, Chapter 124. Internet Edition provided by Medical Services, USMEDSA, USHH. Published by Merck and Co. Inc, 2000

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