Expert's Opinion

The paradox of diapers: People with limited mobility - Part 1

By Carlos Richer, Contributor | February 15, 2012

Richer discusses how diaper needs differ

I do not want to talk about each kind of incontinence, other people have talked about this long enough; instead I want to reclassify incontinence using another perspective.Let us start by focusing on the users themselves; all of the different kinds of incontinence people in the world can be regrouped in one of these major groups:

1) Babies or young kids (with an immature bladder);
2) Active adults (with normal motor mobility);
3) Adults with limited mobility (like bedridden or wheelchair patients).

People that may be somewhat active but with Alzheimers or any other mentally incapacitating disease, for simplicity, can also be grouped with the adults with limited mobility, as they end up experiencing similar issues.

Now lets take a look at how much risk each group has in relation to Incontinence Associated Dermatitis (IAD) and other typical skin diseases:

1)Babiesare constantly taken care by their parents; in addition because of their young age, they have the most elastic and resistant of all skins. Babies stay in diapers just a few years, for them this is not a major issue or a long-term problem.The best solution for them is to use a good performance diaper and usually there is no problem finding excellent options available in the market; in summary, their risk for any kind of serious IAD is very low.

2) When anactive adultis wet, she is capable of changing her own diaper. This action by itself results in minimal risk of irritation to the skin and minimal IAD; Doctors know that being active helps to have healthy skin, even when it can be somewhat compromised with age.Of all active adults with incontinence, the majority of them are women with urinary incontinence.The industry has been very effective with its marketing efforts at selling the idea that incontinence is something “normal” or even an acceptable social practice.The reality is that all of these people have other alternatives to solve their problem for good, rather than wearing a light pad or a brief for the rest of their lives.As long as the industry continues being successful with this message, they will continue buying pads. In summary, again, there are no major issues.

3)Bedridden adults and people in wheelchairsare several times more prone to skin infection and IAD than active adults or babies. There are many reasons for this situation: the lack of mobility can create pressure sores, with less flexibility or aged skin that is less resistant to damage; and most likely due to less overall care or attention when in need for a change of diaper. This group of people does not have other available alternatives; the issue is not so much the incontinence by itself from the point of view of surgery or a medical reason, as much as the lack of mobility by itself. To make it even worst, most of these people end up in State Institutions.
After 21 years with Mexican diaper manufacturer Absormex where he served as general director, Carlos Richer retired in 2005 to start his own company dedicated to providing consulting services to the disposable diaper industry. His website,, contains useful links related to the diaper industry, as well as links to websites of diaper manufacturers and raw material suppliers from all over the world.Next week, Richer will discuss how diaper makers can cater to the needs of different populations in the diaper market.

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