Adult Diapers vs Pull-up Underwear
Information and Education
National Incontinence Awareness Month
Product Recommendation

Adult Diapers vs Pull-up Underwear

More than 3.3 million Canadians of all ages are managing incontinence, and as many as 50% of people over the age of 65 deal with it daily. Incontinence is simply involuntary urinary or bowel leakage, which can range from very light leaks to heavy bedwetting.

For those with heavy absorbency needs, you’re likely considering either adult diapers (briefs) or adult pull-ups (underwear) and you may be debating which is right for you.

Adult Diapers vs. Pull-up Underwear

The primary difference between adult diapers and adult pull ups is the side panels. While adult diapers have tab closures that can be opened and closed during diaper changes, pull-ups are put on like underwear and have tearable side panels that can be quickly opened to make removal easy.


  • Lifestyle - Active or sedentary lifestyle.
  • Absorbency - Moderate to Heavy
  • Advantages -Familiar style of product similar to regular underwear. Easy to use. Good absorbency.
  • Drawbacks - Not quite as absorbent as most adult diapers. Sometimes difficult to find the right fit. Difficult to change without undressing. Higher price point.

Adult Diapers

  • Lifestyle - Active, sedentary or mobility-impaired.
  • Absorbency - Moderate to Maximum
  • Advantages - Best absorbency. Easy to change without completely undressing. Adjustable fit. Generally less expensive than underwear of equal absorbency.
  • Drawbacks - Stigma of using a “diaper”. Not as discreet under clothing. May need to practice trying on and changing to ensure proper fit.


Whether choosing an underwear or adult diaper style product, fit is very important. A product which is too small causes skin irritation, while one that is too big will result in leaks. Measure both the hips and the waist of the individual and use whichever measurement is larger to find the correct size. All Healthwick products are clearly labelled with the size ranges in inches in the product description to help you find exactly the correct size.

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