How to Measure for (and Choose) the Right Incontinence Wearable Size

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Tue Jan 17 2023.

Finding incontinence products that fit correctly can be challenging. Diaper sizes are very different from clothing and require you to do some research in advance. To make things easier, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide on how to choose the right size.

If you care for someone with incontinence, accidents are bound to happen. But selecting the right size of incontinence products (e.g., adult pull on underwear or tabbed briefs) can prevent leaks, reduce the risk of skin problems, and keep your loved one clean and dry.

Sizes for these products differ from clothing and require you to do some research in advance. To make things easier, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide on choosing the right size.

What You'll Need

A Flexible Tape Measure

This will allow you to take accurate measurements of your loved one to identify the perfect size incontinence wear for them.

How to Measure

Step one: Take your loved one’s measurements

Before looking for incontinence products, you must determine your loved one’s size. Use a flexible tape measurer to:

  • Measure the width of your loved one’s waist. Keep the tape just below their belly button to ensure accuracy. 

  • Measure the widest part of your loved one’s hips. 

  • Measure the widest part of your loved one’s thighs. The area between their hips and pelvis.

Encourage your loved one to relax while taking the measurements. If their muscles are tense, it can throw off the sizing by up to an inch. 

Pro tip: Never buy incontinence products based on your loved one’s pant size. Absorbent underwear and tab briefs are typically worn just below the belly button so the measurements won’t be the same.

Step two: Compare the measurements to a product size guide

After collecting your loved one’s waist, hip, and thigh measurements, compare them to an incontinence product size chart.

Most manufacturers provide size brackets featuring waist and hip measurements (e.g., waist/hip: 17”-28”). They also provide information about suggested weight, absorbency capacity, and quantity. 

Choose the size range closest to your measurements. It may take a little trial and error to find the fit that's right for you. Your ideal fit is snug and secure without any gaps along the waist or leg holes.

It's important to remember that there isn't a universal size chart when it comes to adult incontinence products, and each product may require a different size and fit depending on the brand or style you choose.

Step three: Consider other important factors

Taking your loved one’s measurements is crucial when selecting incontinence products, but it’s not the only thing to consider. 

You need to account for several other factors as well, including:

  • Comfort. Adult incontinence products are woven from soft, clothlike materials, allowing the skin to breathe. Many are also free of allergens, such as latex and gluten.

  • The type of incontinence. What type of incontinence does your loved one have? Some products are made specifically for urinary or fecal incontinence; while others support both types.

  • Tabs or No Tabs. Adult diapers have tabs or closures, making it easier to ensure a perfect fit. Pullups don’t have tabs or closures. Instead, they feature tearable side panels that can be easily ripped away.

  • Snug. Snug refers to how the diaper rests against your loved one’s skin. A diaper that’s too snug may cut off circulation or cause a rash. Whereas a diaper that isn’t snug enough may leak.

  • Absorbency. Incontinence products have different levels of absorbency. If you’re buying diapers or pull-ups for the first time, we recommend buying several different absorbency types. After some trial and error, you can determine which products you and your loved one prefer.

Don’t worry about making the “wrong” decision. If a particular product doesn’t fit or your loved one doesn’t like it, that’s okay. There are a variety of adult diapers and pull-ups designed for people of all shapes and sizes. 

Step four: Browse our selection of incontinence and toileting products

Now that you’ve taken your loved one’s measurements and done the preliminary research, it’s time to go shopping. 

Our incontinence and toileting section features dozens of products from renowned brands, including Prevail, Tranquility, Tena, and McKesson. 

Adult diapers

Hear it from Caregivers

“I’m new to these products, so am kind of experimenting with different ones. [Some diapers] have a long tab instead of two separate tabs, which I like. I am ordering a different diaper for night use. They are great at absorbing and strength.” - Kathy L.

“Good quality diaper[s]. Fit well!” - Francis T.

“First time customer and very pleased with the customer service and prompt delivery just like they promised. I will definitely continue to order from Carewell.” - Victor M.

Step 5: Have questions about incontinence products? Contact us!

Finding absorbent underwear or briefs that fit and meet your needs can require a little trial and error. If you don’t have a background in healthcare or professional caregiving, it’s normal to have questions and concerns. 

Let us make things a little easier! Our Care Team is available around the clock to help you make the right choice. Call (800) 696-2273 or send an email to

Common Myths About Adult Diapers and Pull Ups

Myth #1: Larger sizes provide more absorbency

Modern incontinence products (regardless of size) have wicking technology that draws moisture away from the skin. If there’s a choice between fit and absorbency level, always choose fit. 

Myth #2: Some absorbent underwear just has a loose fit

A fit that’s loose or baggy is an accident waiting to happen. 

Make sure the waist of the incontinence product is snug against your loved one’s skin. The leg gathers should hug their thighs, but the diaper shouldn’t bunch up or pinch them when they stand up or walk around.

Myth #3: Adult diapers and tab briefs cause skin problems

Wearing incontinence products may irritate your skin, but selecting the right size and changing the products frequently can significantly reduce your risk. The pull on diapers and tab briefs that we carry are soft, breathable, hypoallergenic, and antibacterial. 

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.