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Inserts Test: Kolibri Compact

While I made a conscious decision to go with “real” diapers due to my fecal incontinence issues, the world of incontinence products is of course a much larger one and includes a numerous other options. I’ve been pondering on how to expand on that for a while and integrate it into the site. I’m not going to lie about it – these alternate product reviews will be much less regular and more limited than my other activities, which basically boils down to the fact that I’m not gonna spend my limited cash on things that I may not be using that much. So expect these things to only pop every now and then based on how I get access to them.

As a first start we are going to have a look at the Kolibri Compact line of inserts/ shaped pads. I got those packages with the same batch for the Kolibri Comslip tests earlier this year and since then have used them rather sporadically every now and then. The reason why I didn’t go out of my way to use them more frequently should be easily apparent. Being a diaper minus the wings, the biggest issue everyone is facing is how to get the pad fixated, which in itself has a number of repercussions for the actual use. Let’s explore the product and see where those things come into play.

Kolibri compact normal, Packages Absorption Levels

The Kolibri Compact series comes in two flavors: A simpler Normal version and the higher-end-ish Soft versions. In contrast to diapers this distinction usually not only extends to the absorption levels or things like the outer cover material, but also directly the shape of the product. Therefore you can’t always be sure that a product with the same name will give the same results in different versions. Lucky for us, here those options are limited and there is, for wont of a better term, only two “sizes”.

Kolibri compact normal, Package

The Kolibri Compact Normal only features the smaller version in two absorption strengths, according to the Kolibri naming conventions labeled as special and ultra. While this is familiar from the diapers, in the end it bears little resemblance to the identically named levels there and is totally arbitrary. Understandably, the pads simply aren’t as large and thick and thus never can even get close to holding the same amount of liquids.

Kolibri compact normal, Absorption Levels

The two levels are distinguished by their color, with the purple one being the special and the eggshell blue the ultra. For my photos I opted for the special to add a bit of visual fancy and bring out the details better, but as you may have guessed, that color may be slightly problematic in real life situations. It’s quite intense and may show through anything that isn’t opaque enough, be that thin cloth or plastic pants, which then may ripple through to the outside if you’re wearing light white summer pants or a skirt. First problem there and you may want to go with the more neutral variant just for that reason then.

The outer surface is made up of a semi-breathable material, not quite conventional plastic foil, but not fully tissue, either. It doesn’t leak through in any way and is pretty soft, though I must say at times the extreme wrinkling from the pieces being stuffed in the package kind of defeats this. It’s quite difficult to straighten out the rim to ensure a convenient wearing experience.

Kolibri compact normal, Front

Getting to a point, my images shot through a transparent plastic pant should illustrate the aforementioned potential issues with fixation to some degree. Trust me, it was pretty hard to get the pad to sit reasonably symmetrical and even to make it look convincing. It’s a bit easier on your own body, where things may sort of  slide and snap into place based on your anatomy, but the actual point sticks: You have to make an effort to get it to sit correctly and even then there’s no guarantee it won’t move out of place as you yourself move during the day.

Kolibri compact normal, Side View

As the images show, these smaller pieces are more or less only ever meant for urine incontinence, with the major functional part being clearly in the anterior parts of the body. In addition to getting a stable positioning that’s ultimately the reason I only have limited or no use for many shaped pads – it is inevitable that in case of a serious “accident” the feces would simply overshoot the edges of the pad. That, plus even under normal conditions it just seems awkward having to deal with these inserts. There never seems to be a good way to remove your fixation garment without the whole affair dropping to the floor immediately or at least contaminating other areas by accidental smearing. To me it’s like you always could use a third hand for a change.

Kolibri compact normal, Back

Due to the limitations in the changing procedure you will most often end up not at all exploiting the full capacity of the product and freshen it up quite early just to avoid making a mess or getting your hands all too dirty. That said, with this brand you get the nice soft pad that also works so well on the actual diapers. A fresh insert will be almost feel like nice underwear and after a while you won’t notice it much. Therein of course lies another potential caveat as you may forget about it and then still dirty up your clothes.

Kolibri compact normal, Inside

The liquid distribution is good as is the absorption rate and overall absorbency. The sideguards are even relatively wide/ tall as well, adding a good bit of additional safety. As previously mentioned, despite identical naming the effective capacity differs considerably from the diapers, though. Even the special at best measures up to a low to medium absorbency level diaper like the Tena Slip Plus or Super or Kolibri‘s own Comslip Ultra.

Kolibri compact soft, Packages Absorption Levels

Moving on to the Soft versions, the same rules can be applied, at least to the ultra flavor. The special and supra are a completely different story, being that they feature a completely different shape and are noticeably larger. Unfortunately with shaped incontinence pads bigger is not always better. Many of the issues I mentioned in the previous paragraphs can easily multiply, the biggest of them being that the pad crumples up even more as you have to somehow wrangle it to comply with whatever you use for fixation.

Kolibri compact soft, Package

Kolibri compact soft, Absorption Levels

As depicted in the images, the larger variants are pretty square-ish, making it even more tricky to get them to cooperate. It’s not impossible, but I’d strictly reserve those versions for use at home where you have the time to deal with such annoyances and can make things easier for yourself by e.g. flattening the pad out by lying on it on your bed.

Kolibri compact soft, Front

Of course the question that lingers in everyone’s mind is “What the hell do you even use for fixation?”. I’ve discussed some of this in one of my introductory articles way back then. I’m still loathe of those thin net panties that you are supposed to use based on what’s illustrated on the package by the vendors (and in turn them trying to sell you something extra). They are way too weak and uncomfortable. At the same time using plain plastic pants is just as odd, as too much of the PVC in direct contact with my skin still ticks me off. Therefore I much prefer synthetic fiber briefs or swimwear. This also has the advantage of being simple to clean, should things go wrong.

Kolibri compact soft, Side View

Another way of using the products is of course using them as stuffers/ boosters for full diapers, or if you want to say it euphemistically, use a diaper as a fixation garment on top of the shaped pads. Here things admittedly get a bit muddled up as it really comes down to an infinite number of combinations. I find that I can use the smaller versions in combination with my daily Attends Slip Regular in size M just fine, but always only one pad at a time. Otherwise the “spacer” effect with the pads stacking up becomes to great and things start to leak.

With the bigger pads things get a bit more complicated as you are going to need a larger diaper to even cover them up sufficiently, which then again depends a lot on your physique and how well the diaper fits. The same is however true if you use textiles or plastic pants. It’s really amazing how huge such a pad can suddenly (seem to) be, when you need to hide it adequately. Therefore it may be worthwhile to first try out the smaller variants until you feel confident. And yes, of course the usual step of shredding the surface to make it penetrable would apply, if you use these products as stuffers.

Kolibri compact soft, Back

No matter how you use them, the capacity of the large versions is almost comparable to that of the full diapers of same name – within the limitations imposed by different procedures. You can wear a supra pretty long and if you can find a good way of getting it affixed nice and tight it might even work for the night. Even the special isn’t that bad.

Kolibri compact soft, Inside

Conclusions? While I enjoy going off the trodden path and experimenting around, integrating different type incontinence products into my daily routine remains a somewhat ambiguous matter. At best I could say I’m indifferent to them, at worst that they’re really not for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t see them working for people with specific types of incontinence, though. Things just don’t gel for me. Changing procedures just seem convoluted compared to the simplicity of wrapping your butt with a full diaper and for my bowel-related issues the feeling of safety just isn’t there, either.

Based on my limited experience, compared to some other products (more articles coming in the future, obviously) this fares reasonably well, though admittedly mostly by inheriting some good attributes from the full diaper products, in particular the good absorption behavior. If you really want to try your hand at inserts/ shaped pads this could be a good starting point. A pack of the smaller versions isn’t too costly and since the absorption ratings only start at a reasonable level you don’t have to fear throwing money out of the window for cheap paper towels.

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Onesies Galore!

As some of you may have noticed, I edited the post for our little Suprima giveaway, which of course can only mean the contest is over. The winner (in this case winner-ess) has been notified and will receive her little goodie soon. Thanks to everyone that participated and stay tuned. There’s no doubt some other contest coming soon-ish if things go as planned.

In similar diaper suit related news, Onesies Downunder have added yet another slew of new prints to their line-up. It’s really getting crowded even if you don’t count this year’s Christmas edition. The race is on for that one similar to the Halloween ones (which, BTW I’m still wearing as I’m typing those words), so hurry up if you want this funny piece with Santa feeding fish to penguins (while riding a polar bear).

There’s another somewhat icy theme with the Mammoth onesie, which is extremely adorable. The others are a bit more generic and include Vikings, Aliens and Owls. The latter two have a slightly psychedelic touch due to their intense colors, but at the same time would pass as regular T-shirts if you’re not a member of the “It can be any color as long as it’s black!” fraction. ;-)

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Diaper Test: Fabine Exklusiv

While I try to keep things up-to-date around here and present products in a timely manner, there are some that I keep pushing around in my schedule again and again. One of those has forever been the Fabine Exklusiv line of diapers.

Fabine Exklusiv, Packages

Now usually the reason why I postpone stuff is this weird mix of me only being able to get so much done vs. new products coming out or on occasion new versions of existing products making my efforts nil and void when I just was about to get to it with its predecessor. In this case I can’t make any such excuses or blame it on anyone, as I really consciously have avoided for quite a while. “Why?”, you may ask, so here are my reasons.

The product has been around quite a while and derives its name from the person who obviously goes by the last name of Faber. Said person had a batch of these thingies made in China a few years ago. So far nothing unusual and they even seemed to be rather popular, but then somehow things fell off the cart with consecutive batches. People were all too willing to preorder, but then had to wait forever until the products were actually being produced and deliveries arrived. Since this apparently happened more than once, it caught the company a bit of a bad reputation.

It also made it neigh on impossible to actually plan an article, because you wouldn’t know if and when the stuff might arrive and in what quantities plus then I couldn’t even point you to a source for a reliable purchase afterwards. Oh the complications! Recently things changed, however, and SaveExpress added the products to their line-up and perhaps we are lucky enough, that this also means they haggled out a reliable supply contract that ensures a continuous flow of product.

Fabine Exklusiv, Package, Size M

Based on what I just wrote, this article deals with the current edition of the product (as of July/ August 2017), not older ones. This distinction is important since there have been different versions over the years, which I can attest to because friends have occasionally given me single examples from their treasure vaults. Those older variants are a completely different beast, but as they are no longer available, anyway, there seems no point in elaborating on them further.

Fabine Exklusiv, Colors

The current selection includes a couple of color variants, some of which are depicted here. The cyan/ magenta one represents the baseline product, with a fully “girlyfied” pink version thrown in for good measure.

The blue denim pattern is an oddity, and not in a good way. Not only have jeans hotpants gone out of fashion for a while, but the design is also pretty crude and bulky. I honestly don’t know who would wear this and be proud of it. They could at least have omitted the fly imitation and toned down the contrast on the seam lines. To top it off, there is a fully pink version of that, too, which looked just too weird, so I didn’t include it.

Additional evidence of this product being riddled with oddities and quirks is the mirrored print. Yes, that’s really not me having flipped the photo, that’s the pre-press operator having done something wrong when preparing the print plates. It’s minor, but funny nonetheless.

Fabine Exklusiv, Sizes

Having gotten into the habit of trying out at least the two mainstream sizes (where relevant and within the confines of what I can afford to buy at a given point) I followed the same approach here. Not that this would have been a difficult decision – you can only buy size M and L, anyway, limiting the options. Always cautious, I was of course expecting this to be yet again the ump-teenth derivative of the “standard China diaper”, but lo and behold, this time we’re indeed in for something different.

Both sizes follow standard European measurements and conventions and therefore are a good fit for me and pretty much anyone who is used to products from big vendors available in these parts. Within the normal expectations hence the L is actually too large while the M is a nice and snug affair, eliminating the need to pick the larger size as I would have had otherwise.

Fabine Exklusiv, Front

The proportions take a bit of getting used to, though, since the diaper is highly asymmetrical. The front flap is a very slim thing whereas the back part is a lot higher/ taller. This makes it necessary to be a bit particular about how you fixate the product. In my case this means that I have to pull the front quite a bit up to ensure the backside of the legs and butt has good seal while also making sure there is no hollow in the front and everything is packed up nicely to prevent leakage.

As a result you may end up with quite a bit of the foil from the backside peeking out of your protective pants, onesie or whatever and you may need to tug it away. The back panel being so long also means that you may have a bit of a struggle with the upper seam as it tends to fold and roll up, especially if you have a bit of a hollow back like me. Other than that I love the excellent bum coverage, though.

Fabine Exklusiv, Side View

Speaking of posterior convenience, let’s have a look at the absorbent pad. In contrast to the typical “China product” mentioned earlier, this one does pretty well in that it doesn’t suffer that awful hardness that hinders actual absorption. Here the pad is soft and fluffy from the get go, which makes a lot of things easier, beginning with putting on the diaper. Instead of having to battle a stiff, almost rigid panel you can adapt things with relative ease.

This then continues with the actual usage, where you don’t have to be afraid to let things go for fear of the liquids not being absorbed quickly enough. It’s also worth noting that due to the loose structure the liquids distribute nicely in the pad in just the right amounts, meaning you don’t get a wet butt long before it’s time, but at the same time don’t need to put up with things staying just in one place, either.

The overall absorption is definitely in the upper range, though I wouldn’t necessarily buy into the extremely high values promised in the marketing. Yes, this product is definitely better than some others, but quite likely not the proclaimed ultimate achievement. There are still some laws of nature involved that you just can’t defeat.

Fabine Exklusiv, Inside

Before we part, allow me to sprinkle in a few words regarding the adhesive tapes. Those are a bit of an oddity as well, at least on the denim-patterned version. In contrast to the regular ones that do a good job, there some sort of semi-opaque, very thin ones are used without the blue edge demarcations.

I totally “get” that they did this to not ruin the illusion, but unfortunately those tapes are rather weak and barely stick even on the transparent, high-gloss front sticker. They kinda remind me of the quite similar low adhesion Scotch tape, that also has this matte appearance that then only turns fully transparent once you actually stick it onto something. In any case, you might want to keep some extra tape handy.

Fabine Exklusiv, Back

In closing I can say that my eternal waiting and procrastination on this particular product paid off in the end and it turned out better than anticipated. The print design is okay and not too obtrusive, the fit very good and the absorption behavior can compare with other high quality products. Naturally it’s not the cheapest one on the block, but compared to those products imported from the US or elsewhere, it is still reasonably priced here in Germany.

Of course this still may mean nothing – they could fall back into their old pattern and the next production batch again be an entirely different beast. I can’t promise you to always catch any changes in time, but I’ll definitely be monitoring this closely. For the time being, however, you can safely order a bunch of those diapers without having to worry much. It could even be that this funny misprint becomes a collector’s item just like with old post stamps. Who knows? ;-)

Diaper Basics: Another Look at Incontinence Skincare – Part 2 – Rules, Essentials and then some…

In the second part of our excursion into the wonderous world of incontinence-related skincare I will run you through some basic procedures as well as must-have and would-be-nice products that can help you with achieving the best possible results. Some of the info will appear double and feel redundant, but since many products share common ingredients it can’t be entirely avoided. I have tried to list the products in a sensible order to minimize those redundancies.

For this article I’m mostly focusing on generic grocery store/ drugstore products. While due to my selection of some higher quality major brand products this might not qualify as “skincare on a budget”, it still should get my point across that it’s not always necessary to buy super-expensive stuff to get through your daily routine.

Rules and even more Rules

Before we even begin, we need to establish a few simple rules for dos and don’ts. Yes, more boring stuff that should be self-evident, but not only do I like to play it safe, it may also remind you of a few things you should know and perhaps have forgotten about.

  • It’s only for the outside! – All products discussed here have no place inside any of your orifices or other bodily cavities. While most of them aren’t poisonous, they can have negative effects when getting in contact with e.g. the mucosa of your rectum just like they may taste terribly when you swallow them, cause you to sneeze when they get in your nostrils or burn in your eyes.

    It should not need mention that even more crazy things like intentionally injecting certain substances into your urethral tract are not so smart. Of course accidents can happen and you may inadvertently expose your innards to harmful chemicals, but copious amounts of water and the use of paper towels/ dry wipes can fix most of these issues. If you suffer from long-term effects or have allergic reactions go see a doctor ASAP.

  • Keep it out of open wounds!– As an extension of the previous point it should not take too much of a stretch of imagination to realize that you may not want many products to come into contact with open wounds or hyper-sensitized sore skin regions, either. In those cases the common strategies are to of course simply avoid those regions or cover them up. Unfortunately, when you suffer incontinence issues sometimes neither of the two is sometimes possible.

    You may not be able to cover a wound with a plaster, patch or bandage just like you may not be able to entirely avoid applying some substances, if only unintentionally. You know, your favorite barrier cream working itself into some areas as you move or bandages coming off. There are some products that can help like liquid plaster (up to very expensive highly sterile surgical products), but here’s my tip:

    In such situations it can be a great help to just let the wound coagulate, seal and dry by allowing enough air to get through. So it may sound like a weird notion, but after you may have e.g. cut yourself during an intimate close shave, it may be a good idea to walk around in your flat with a loosely fixated and open diaper or just lay still in similar fashion for half an hour. As always: For more serious issues go see an MD.

  • Keep it dry! – One of the most underestimated rules is the simple necessity to keep things dry in some parts of your nether regions. I’m not going to tell you that from now on you need to change your diaper more often, but among other things it is worth considering. More critical, however, is actually letting things “dry”, very similar to the previous point regarding wounds.

    A very common mistake is to put on a fresh diaper too soon after skincare products have been applied. This doesn’t give them enough time to be absorbed by the skin and thus may have some ill effects. One of those is that the products will rub off more quickly than intended onto the absorbent portions of your incontinence product. This reduces their effectiveness and protection factor, but also has the side-effect of making the surface less penetrable, possibly reducing overall absorption and definitely impacting absorption rate.

    The other way around, especially when using foil-based diapers, you may create an unhealthy micro-climate with too much moisture exuding from your skincare product. Conversely, having lots of greasy, smeary stuff on your skin may serve as a perfect ground for bacteria, yeasts and other fungae, increasing the risk of collateral infections or at least irritations.

    To avoid both issues, I would recommend you allow your skincare products to settle for at least three to ten minutes, depending on what you actually use. Brushing your teeth naked sometimes isn’t a bad idea, after all. Since some products are also difficult to apply in the right amount, it may at times also help to dab off excess with a dry paper towel or similar.

  • Your butt-crack is a safe zone! – As my fecal incontinence developed over the years I had to learn some lessons the hard way and one of those is that your butt-crack or Rima ani , as it’s called scientifically, including the immediate exterior regions around your rectum/ anus, can be a hyper-sensitive area that can cause you lots of agony. In practice this means that you need to find a good balance between keeping it clean, but also not overdoing it. That, plus avoiding to rub on skincare products where they do the least good.

    Yupp, friends, this is a zone you should mostly leave out until you have to, the prime reason for this being that once trapped between your butt cheek even the most well-intended and seemingly harmless products can do damage simply because as per the previous point moisture accumulates, which in combination with already irritated skin from fecal excretions indeed can feel like someone powdered your butt with chili.

    It goes without saying that everything I wrote about nasty bacteria and chemicals possibly inadvertently getting in touch with your interior parts also applies. In addition, moisture down there can cause or exacerbate issues with hemorrhoids and ulcers, which is something you don’t want as well. Therefore nice and dry is the way to go.

  • Wash your hands – often and thoroughly! SRSLY!– It is a matter of some debate (which I will not get into here) whether or not you always need to wear rubber gloves when cleaning up your intimate regions. It makes perfect sense when you really have made a poopy mess, but a lot of times perhaps not so much, considering that pretty much any incontinence product has chemicals that inhibit bacterial growth and urine is almost perfectly sterile to begin with (unless of course you have a bladder infection).

    A similar argument could be made for applying creams and ointments. It may be nice not having to deal with white stuff under your fingernails, but unless you have specific reasons, it’s perhaps not even particularly comfortable to wear that thin layer of latex, nitrile or vinyl on your hands. In fact some of those are even sensitive to lipids and may dissolve when getting in contact with greasy substances.

    Regardless of your preference in the matter, one thing you should definitely do is to wash your hands a lot. This means you should wash them intensely before you begin and then again and again through the whole procedure such as after you have removed your old diaper and done the cleaning. Likewise it may even be necessary to wash your hands after every use of a different skincare product.

    Why all the fuss? To avoid all sorts of infections, of course. You do not want to eat your food with dirty hands and you just as well have to avoid contaminating your skincare products or for them to  show unexpected reactions when they come into contact with one another. Did I mention that having Penaten-Cream in your face also looks kinda funny in a weird sense? ;-) So by all means, make it a point to wash your hands based on a sensible pattern. And no, desinfecting agents have no place in this nor won’t they save your behind.

  • No double takes!– It may come as a surprise, but when it comes to skincare there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Your skin is a living, breathing organ and it can only take so much, both in the good and negative sense. Too much scrubbing, rubbing and peeling can be just as bad as trying to make up for bad practices with too much of a skincare product or too many of them.

    Therefore it is necessary to develop a feeler for when enough is enough and avoid situations where you possibly end up piling one substance of a certain kind on top of another that serves the same purpose. As an example it makes for instance absolutely no sense to immerse yourself in a creamy, oily bath for half an hour and then add yet another ton of moisturising body lotion on top. Similar analogies can be drawn for other cases.

    As always – which combinations work will of course depend on your individual parameters. Dry, coarse skin may actually benefit more from multiple treatments, greasy skin not so much. In reverse, dry skin may suffer from using too many cleaning products when you can rub a dry wipe on oily skin all day without doing any harm. It really depends and only you know what’s best for you. It may even be useful to consult a dermatologist or consult with a cosmetics person to find a good combination.

After this little lecture let’s move on to some actual products. Please note that everything depicted are just stand-ins based on what I actually use. If you use other products that have proven their worth and “just work” for you, there is no need to change anything as long as you have all departments covered.

Products Primer

Washing Gel/ Shower Gel

Face WashSince everything starts with providing a clean base to work on, you will need some reasonably good washing or shower gel or soap. Personally I’m not a big fan of products with heavy scents, so you won’t find fruity flavors or herbal essences in my bathroom. I like to keep things “neutral” so yes, I buy the cheap blue shower gel that supposedly smells like a sea breeze. The only real luxury I’m affording myself is a dedicated face wash gel (shown here), which helps to avoid acne.

Regardless of this, it doesn’t really matter much what you use, as long as you make it a point to rinse it off thoroughly to provide a clean base. That being the case, I would also recommend that you don’t overdo with expensive products containing rich oils. It isn’t necessarily improving matters and may get in the way.

Foam Bath/ Bathing Essence

Foam BathI have to admit that I’m bathing a lot. Going for a swim in my bathtub helps to relax my muscles, which these days seem to be under permanent spasms and cramps (despite medication), it helps me to breathe more easily (for a while at least), soothes my nerves and is even helpful to calm down intestinal problems, not to mention the positive effects of a steamy bath during a cold.

When I do, I almost exclusively use oily foam bath from Nivea, which also only has a mild almond scent, and only mix in small amounts of the other stuff as needed since e.g. too much of that stingy Eucalyptus oil makes me cough like crazy.

Note that this is also a perfect example for not using too many products at once – when I bathe, I bathe and don’t use anything else after that. I used to use extra lotion, but after many a night spent with that sticky, sweaty feeling on my skin I stopped and things went much better after that.

Zinc (Cream or Emulsion)

Zinc CreamZinc, or more to the point, Zinc oxide is an important constituent of a huge fraction of all the creams, ointments and salves out there as well as many other products. The only difference really is the amount used. There are of course some simple reasons for this. Its color makes it ideal for making products look shiny white and opaque. Since it’s also comparably cheap, it can be used in relatively huge quantities in favor over the more expensive Titanium dioxide.

Along that line of thinking it also makes for a good way of stabilizing the volume of a product and keep it from un-mixing and decomposing back into its original components due to some physical effects at the microscopic level. None of that of course should matter much to us – for all we care it could be black or any other color, as long as its medical effects are the same – and that’s where it get’s interesting.

Zinc oxide is one of the oldest known anti-inflammants and wound healing accelerants and thus historically has been used for anything from treating pimples to serious burns among a gigazillion other things. A lot of those use cases exploit the fact that this ingredient dries out the wounds by binding moisture and the material itself, while being chemically neutral and non-toxic, has antiseptic properties that are beneficial to the process.

When it comes to incontinence skincare, it is a prominent part of many more conventional barrier creams and the like, with an important factor being that it tends to adhere to the skin very well, again due to that thing with its reaction to (skin) moisture and its microscopic structure. Naturally, its anti-inflammatory qualities are useful, too. Recently however, this has come under fire somewhat for a few reasons that make quite a bit of sense once you think about it.

Due to its opaqueness the product may cover up things a bit all too well, making it more difficult to gauge the severity of wounds. This is a widely discussed issue in professional healthcare circles, in particular when it comes to care for the elderly, where things like Decubitus figure into the equation. Along those lines there’s a second argument that you would not apply a product that dries out skin on top of already fragile skin, such as older people, bedridden patients or diabetics may have.

Personally I use this stuff in its plain form extremely rarely and then really only in small areas like when I got in contact with poisenous plants and have blistering on my skin or I was dumb enough to scratch open a mosquito bite. So arguably my main use of it really only extends to barrier creams.

Panthotene/ Panthenol (Cream, Emulsion, Foam)

Panthenol CreamPanthotene is a naturally occurring substance produced by your body. For cosmetic purposes most of the time its more stable and common, synthesized form (Dex-)Panthenol is used, which then acts as some kind of precursor that is being processed into Panthotene. Similar to Zinc oxide, the positive effects of this ingredient have been known rather long and thus it is also being used widely in all kinds of skincare and cosmetics products.

In contrast to what the image may suggest, my preferred way of applying this substance remains the use of foams, however. I even mentioned that briefly in my old article. My rationale here is that it is easier to get an even coat and not to apply too much. While it has positive effects on skin regeneration, the skin is actually only able to absorb very tiny amounts of it at a time, so there is not much point to oversaturate things. Applying too much won’t accelerate the process. It also doesn’t have any “cool” secondary effects, making it even less of a necessity to apply thick layers.

Film-forming Barrier Product

Penaten CreamAt last we are getting somewhere after all the theoretical stuff and are finally discussing your favorite “film-forming barrier product”. that’s quite a mouthful, but really describes perfectly what those products are about – forming an (ideally) impenetrable barrier. To that end there are many different approaches by manufacturers and unless you count specific advanced medical products like Cavilon, most of them revolve around creating a sticky layer of greasy substances or an equally durable layer of zinc oxide with a lot of variations inbetween that try to blend both methods to get the best of both worlds.

First off some bad news: Despite having tried out quite a few products over time, so far I haven’t found the perfect one yet. Most of the time the issues revolve around the products being difficult to apply or not lasting long enough while then at the same time being a total pest when you try to wash them off again. Even the good old Penaten-Cream is a prime example for that.

Since it is based on greases that only melt around your body temperature, you have to dig a lump from the tin and then work it pretty hard to get it to spread evenly. After a short while then the zinc oxide kicks in and it will become even more sticky, especially on your fingers. I typically then have to use two passes of hand washing to get it off, especially under my fingernails. Luckily, such an application will last throughout a whole day (or night for that matter), so you have to suffer the procedure only once before at the end another round of rubbing hard and using lots of shower gel may ensue to get it off again. I’m not saying that it’s bad, it’s just pretty inconvenient.

That said, you can’t possibly avoid some of those annoyances. Even I, who has rather greasy, resilient skin, have days where it’s necessary to add some extra protection. I’m usually judging things by my gut feeling and don’t have a specific pattern. This often has to do with how irritated my skin already is and what I think it would need most based on my experience. So on a day where I know I’ll be out & about for a long time e.g. for a doctor’s appointment in another city I may want to use a heavy zinc cream and then use a lighter, lipid-only product after my evening shower for the night.

And for those who always wanted to know, but never dared to ask: Yes, it does indeed look like the clown make-up in Disney‘s Dumbo movie down there when you apply zinc-based products: A white face with a trunk. I’ll forego bragging rights about the size of my trunk. *giggle* ;-)

Talcum Powder

Penaten PowderThe next item is going to be a bit of an uh-oh thing for some people. Talcum powder has gotten a bit of a bad reputation in recent years for reasons that I find at best dubious, since neither of them has really been proven in a satisfying manner.

The first of those is that it would be “abrasive” to the skin, which in my not so humble opinion is pretty nonsensical. Dried out Zinc cream is probably just as bad, if you were to really put much stock into this. The powder is ground up so finely, I just can’t see how this would happen. Coarse cloth on your underwear is probably worse. That and the particles are actually more like microscopic flakes that slide on one another. That notwithstanding, I could see some theoretical issues for people with thin skin and open wounds, but that would then probably fall more into the category of generic mistakes by care personnel.

The second issue cited is an increased risk of cancer when powder gets in contact with open wounds or inside your body. This goes back to some women having allegedly contracted ovary cancer by use of powder in their intimate regions and suing certain companies for it, but so far there is no scientific evidence that proves or disproves this. If you are the cautious type, you might prefer to err on the safe side and not use powder.

With that out of the way, is there even a good reason to use it? I say yes, but perhaps not in the way you expect. Talcum powder has zero (in numbers: 0) actual effect on your skin. It doesn’t protect anything, nor does it have any cleaning effect or any other magical powers. However, where I find it super useful is to get things “dry” – for a while at least.

With my incontinence there are good days and bad days and on a bad day I may sweat a lot or have very liquid stool and then it so happens that seemingly there is no good way to get rid of the itches despite elaborate cleaning. This is one of the few situations where I’m even willing to disobey my own advise and get more up close and personal in my Rima ani. However, I do so very carefully – instead of shooting large amounts of powder directly from the container, I apply a small dose onto my fingertips and distribute it on the sore areas. Of course it will come off again soon enough, but I find that this procedure really helps, unscientific as it may be.

Generic Body Skincare Product

Body LotionEven if you don’t use it all the time, you should definitely have one of those floating around just in case. As they say “You have to start young (with skincare) for your skin not to look old.” and I definitely have started way too late in my life to appreciate the positive effects of using even the most basic skin cream or lotion.

I’m still not going crazy over this, but there are some use cases. Naturally I’m using it quite a bit during summer to soothe my skin after having exposed it to the sun. In part this has to do with my defunct Vitamin D metabolism being dependent on some sun exposure and thus sunblockers not being ideal, in part I simply forget to put on some protection when running my errants here in our little village and then underestimate the sun’s intensity and how long I’m outside.

The other case where I would use it occasionally is when my intimate regions simply feel extremely dry after wearing diapers for a long time. This in particular includes the upper parts of the thighs, the outsides of your buttocks, parts of the back and belly – regions that you normally don’t apply protective products on, yet may still be sensitive to the carrier tissue of your incontinence product.

As far as the specific properties of your lotion or cream are concerned, your emphasis should be on moisture with only a touch of oils, at least in the context that is relevant here. If you overdo with the greasy stuff, you might again minimize the efficiency of your incontinence product for the same reason laid out earlier for the barrier products. Your skin being too smooth and slippy might even affect the physical comfort when wearing your diaper, as it may slide down more easily.

Hand Wash

Hand WashSince I’m advocating frequent hand washing so adamantly, having a sufficient supply of washing gel or soap is crucial. For all intents and purposes, it should be as mild as it can possibly get due to how often you are going to use it. That may sound complicated, but actually isn’t – most mundane products out there fulfill that criteria already, with “active substances” (tensides etc.) often making up less than 3 percent of the product and the rest being glycerine, water and other fillers to make it actually usable.

As a recurring theme, I would advise against using products with too many lipids in them. The risk here is that you may inadvertently touch the sticky side of your adhesive tapes and thus reduce their strength by applying an invisible film of grease. Similarly, there is no need for the hand wash to contain disinfecting agents. As I’ve laid out in my older article, a lot of hygiene has to do with physically removing contaminants rather than trying to make them inert using chemicals.

Hand Cream

Even the mildest hand wash takes its toll and seasonal effects like the winter cold contribute to skin breaking up, so there’s nothing wrong with using a hand cream every now and then. Based on what I said, of course you should do it only after you have successfully cleaned up and changed your diaper. I would also recommend you don’t do it too often throughout the day. For one it’s simply impractical trying to hold a coffee cup with slippery fingers, but it may also pose a hygienic problem. People balming their hands e.g. on public trains is simply bad, as it helps spread bacteria. Likewise, even at home you may not want to turn your computer’s keyboard into a Petri dish.

Wet Wipes

Baby WipesThis is going to be controversial like some of what I wrote already, but here’s something to write down for you: When it comes to cleaning, lots of water and a washing cloth are still your best friends. Even the most sophisticated and fancy wet wipes can’t replace that, which of course means that I consider them only a second best alternative.

Aside from environmental considerations, my problem with these wipes is inherent in how they work. In order to retain their moisture, they contain chemicals like Propylene glycol, that have a retardant drying effect. Naturally, some of that comes off when you use them on your skin and this goes against our “keep things dry” rule. That is to say by using these products too heavily, you may introduce a new problem while fixing another, if you don’t allow enough time for the residue to dry off.

As I wrote in my previous article in this series therefore wet wipes can only be considered a complementary product, but you can’t possibly avoid having to properly shower and wash once a day. In my little world I really only use them very sparingly and often even only as a quick way to “freshen up” and at a hint of fresh scent on my skin, because otherwise I don’t use perfumes and deodorants that much, either.

Other Products

Finally let’s have a look at some more products that don’t exactly fit into any other paragraph. The ones mentioned here typically only come into play when you actually have some sort of wound, be that an open scratch or a sore. You wouldn’t normally use them for your daily routine.

Vaseline

Vaseline

The first is plain Vaseline (Petrolatum, Petroleum jelly). It’s already part of many medical and cosmetic products where it is often only used to control the consistency of the product, not so much as an active ingredient.

The reason I’m explicitly mentioning it here is simple: Because it’s pure, it may be an alternative if you suffer specific reactions to other products. This can include allergic reactions e.g. to organic oils (and tiny amounts of pollen etc. contained therein), but also temporary skin irritations. As a byproduct of petrol it does not contain these kinds of things.

Of course it could be argued that the product may contain hydrocarbons that have the opposite effect, but similar to my stance on Talcum powder I consider any “evidence” to that end at best inconclusive. If you allow me: To me it’s more likely you get a reaction to expensive almond oil just because a bird pooped onto one of the nuts.

With that said, the theoretical applications of just Vaseline are endless. It’s insoluble in water, thus allowing it to serve as a barrier product. At the same time it has wound healing properties, making it a candidate for use on small wounds. It’s also perfectly transparent, so it’s utterly inconspicuous in exposed skin areas except for the shiny gloss. The only downside is that it barely gets absorbed into the skin, so you have to be super careful to not dirty up your clothes or let it catch too much dirt.

Specific Wound Treatment

As I promised in the first part of this series, I’m not going to pretend to be a pharmacist and I will avoid those treacherous waters, but regardless, allow me to point out some more specific “medical” products that I find useful.

Bepanthen CreamBepanthen-Cream is an advanced version of standard Panthenol cream discussed earlier and in this case does contain an additional antiseptic component. This particular product is also very liquid-ish, allowing it to get into small crevices, i.e. wrinkly skin regions. I occasionally feel compelled to use it when I messed up a shave (facial or otherwise) or scratched myself too much. Totally unrelated to any of this, it is also my go-to product  when I injured my nail bed during pedicure/ manicure since it so nicely flows under the nail almost by itself.

Hametum CreamWhile rather apparently I have a preference for “pure”, lab-quality ingredients, it goes without saying that there are some natural products based on plant extracts that have similar qualities. Two prominent examples for this are Arnika montana and Hamamelis extracts, the latter represented here by ways of a wound ointment. This specific one can be used to great effect for those pesky inflammatory itches even in the Rima ani, because it is based on a very doughy grease and sticks well.

One thing you have to be warned about, though: Many of these natural products can be extremely toxic when used wrongly. Most of them are ever only meant for topical application for a limited time. You should avoid contact with open wounds and mucous tissue at any cost. Naturally, due to being extracted from real plants they may also contain remnants of the plants themselves and those in turn can cause allergies. Therefore I would advise testing these products under normal conditions first before you rushedly use them in a crunch and suffer side-effects.

After this 5000+ words monstrosity in the next article we will finally get a look at some branded products. Sorry for the long read, but this should give you enough to think about for a while at least. As always – if you have specific questions or commentaries, feel free to make good use of the various feedback options. See you next time!

Diaper Test: Rearz Lil Squirts

I’m a reluctant hero when it comes to single tape diapers, so it took a while before I just got over it and got myself those Rearz Lil Squirts from our local biggest diaper dealer here in Germany, SaveExpress.

Rearz Lil Squirts, White, Packshot

The product has been on the market for almost a year now or at least since early this year (2017) when it came out first in the colored variant. These days I’m more about practicality than fancy prints (at least where the diapers themselves are concerned), so I opted for a full package of the white version and got some separate individual samples of the colored one.

Rearz Lil Squirts, Available Colors

It had been quite some time since I last reviewed a Rearz product and I never really got around to testing the size L model when I was doing that article on the Safari, Seduction and Princess Pink flavors and this new test presented an opportunity to do just that.

Rearz Lil Squirts, Printed, Size Comparison

Rather predictably the L version is pretty oversized already even for me and my barrel belly, considering that the regular size M products are spacious enough to begin with. While on regular diapers with two or three tapes per side this would be a problem to a much lesser extent, I wouldn’t recommend it with this type. You may love to cover your belly button with that nice fluffy stuff from the absorbent pad, but unless you make extensive use of additional adhesive tape, it is quite unlikely you’ll ever get this feeling.

Rearz Lil Squirts, White, Frontside View

As the images illustrate, there will always be lots of loose material regardless of whether you place the tape far up like I did sort of “academically correct” for my photos or use it in a lower position. Something is always bound to flop around and using too big a size only exacerbates these issues. Therefore the only sane advise can be to stick with the size that comes closest to your actual body measurements and proportions. Naturally, as always, doing so will also be helpful to ensure an optimum fit, tight seal and prevention of leakage.

Rearz Lil Squirts, White, Lateral View

Unfortunately the people at Rearz (or more specifically whatever factory is producing the product in their name) have made no special effort to adapt the shape of the diaper to the requirements and limitations of only having a single tape. This furthers my previous argument even more.

Had they bothered to at least cut off some of the excess material around the legs things might have looked better in the sense that it then would not be unlike a Attends Slip Active and possibly even be a good candidate for sports and other leisure activities that may require a bit more freedom of movement. As it is, you’ll probably be more busy trying to conceal the extraneous material and finding ways to restrict it so it doesn’t get in the way.

To sum up things briefly again: For me a size M will do just fine and in light of the quirks associated with just having a single broad tape using an L is unnecessary and unnecessarily complicated. This doesn’t in any way subtract from the product’s other, rather favorable qualities, however.

Rearz Lil Squirts, White, Backside View

As I pointed out back then and keep repeating in my reviews, I love myself diapers with very wide pads in the back due to my fecal incontinence issues and my personal preference also extends to using rather thick diapers for practical reasons even when I’m in public for longer durations and not just at home. This combo is present here and say what you will – if it wasn’t for the price, there’d be a good chance I’d stock up on Rearz, ABU and a few other brands and use them all the time. In this case of course I’d presumably rather go with the plain white Inspire or the plain black Seduction, with the occasional Safari thrown in for fun. Funny enough, though, I kinda like the blue-ish sheen caused by the inside material on this particular product. It has a breath of classiness to it.

Rearz Lil Squirts, White, Inside View

Since the specs haven’t really changed, you get the same very absorbent pad and it’s going to get you through a night or a good portion of the day if you can work out the specific fit. For me this doesn’t work too well and somehow I always have to change the product a bit prematurely to prevent things from flowing out, but if you are more on the lean side and have a regular body stature this could work reasonably where my attempts always get thwarted by my big tummy.

Finally let’s speak a bit about the design of the printed version. I have to be honest here: When I first saw it I thought to myself “Epic fail!”. To me as a graphics designer (of sorts) it was all too obvious that this is a case of good intentions gone wrong. Now here’s the thing: I love underwater creatures and the initial preliminary designs looked just like my kind of thing. There’s really nothing wrong with octopuses and seahorses and even the googly-eyed crocodile and frog are okay.

However, somehow during the actual production the wheels seem to have fallen off the cart. The foil chosen sucks any vibrance and life out of the print colors and thus the whole affair looks rather dull and dreary in the end. To somewhat prove my point I even have mocked up a tweaked version by the mighty powers of Photoshop (I didn’t isolate individual colors and only used a global color adjustment, so don’t mind the green having turned purple).

Rearz Lil Squirts, Printed, Optimized Colors Mock-Up

As should become evident, it really comes down to choosing a differently colored base and perhaps shift the colors a bit to be more prominent and this could look a lot better. Do you agree? Of course any number of other color combinations would be possible and thinkable, too, just not too many with the cyan/turquoise foil, I guess.

If you haven’t tried any of the Rearz diapers yet, you can include this particular one without much risk on your wishlist. In my view you should make it a point, though, to not only read my other article but also include some actual samples of the two tape versions. For me those still work a lot better. If you are merely looking for a very absorbent product on a more generic level and are confident enough that your physique plays nice with these single tape products, then there’s nothing against this one. The biggest hinderance to adopt this more widely will be the steep price, anyway, so chances are you’ll be very selective about it and make decisions on the spot as needed, regardless of what I wrote here. ;-)

Suprima Giveaway

As I promised you in my review, I’m giving away my surplus Suprima diaper suit because it’s too small for me, compliments of Suprima‘s generosity in letting me keep it. Before we move on, have a look at the image to be sure you actually want it and also read the article (again) regarding the size:

Suprima Care Body Giveaway

Still interested? Is it the right size for you or someone you know to give it to? Like the color? Then insert a valid e-mail address in the little contact form below:

***form removed to prevent abuse after contest deadline***

Of course we need a few simple rules, which are as follows:

  • The contest runs from October 1st to October 31st 2017.
  • Entries made after the closing date will not be considered.
  • Only one entry per contestant is allowed.
  • After the deadline a winner will be picked randomly and contacted by e-mail to provide a physical address to send the product to.
  • The prize will be shipped worldwide since it conveniently can be slipped into a large envelope at reasonable cost.
  • The only prize is the Suprima suit in size M as depicted. There are no alternatives or substitutes.
  • By entering the contest and providing your e-mail you agree to the above terms and conditions.Privacy note: Contact information will only be retained for the duration of the contest and be deleted after the winner has successfully be contacted.

Enjoy the contest and feel free to get in touch if you have specific questions!

Medcare again

It happens rarely enough, but this week brought a bit of diversity to my itinerary. As a welcome change from my endless medical appointments I had an excursion to a seasonal market with my mom and on Friday was grandma’s funeral after she had passed away at the age of 91 a few weeks ago, but my personal highlight was the sophomore edition of Medcare. I would love to attend more of these medical conferences and tradeshows, but there aren’t too many in our area to begin with and I don’t have the money to travel the country (in addition to the usual scheduling conflicts with my other activities). So I have to make do with whatever I can get in or get invited to.

With its second outing it seems to me Medcare is slowly finding its way and specialising into a few things like hospital care, ostomy products and a few other things, though admittedly it feels a bit rough around the edges. Something that miffed me a bit this year was that several seminars were cancelled or their times shifted around because the people supposed to hold them were tied up at their work places. Not good in my opinion because it lowers the value of such events and if you set your sights on specific lectures you might end up having a lot of free time  and nothing to do while waiting for the next event in line or miss them entirely if you have to leave. This should be avoided.

Of course as an outsider I can take it easy, but I was still disappointed that the seminar on pain treatment didn’t happen on the day I was there. The one that replaced it on incontinence associated dermatitis wasn’t bad, though, and a few things I learned there might come in handy in my series on incontinence skincare that I just started. The other one I sat in on dealt with wound treatment and also offered some interesting insights even though it went way beyond what you may encounter in your personal life. The accompanying exhibition was pretty much identical to the one back in 2015, so I forewent taking photos in favor of a bit more chit-chatting within what my limited abilities in making conversation allow. I’m just not good at all this socializing stuff. I would also love if the exhibition was a bit larger and more varied, though I understand it may be difficult to reel in companies to put up a stand for those two or three days.

As for the rest – the personnel situation here in Germany seems to be really dire and desperate. Just like last time I could have walked off the premises with a handful of preliminary employment contracts/ letters of intent if I had the qualifications and my chronic illness wouldn’t keep me from being allowed these kinds of jobs. So if you feel like moving over here and working as a care nurse and so on, you will be welcome. Of course the pay still isn’t that great and there’s a lot of overtime, which might make you reconsider.

Finally, I took the opportunity to refresh my organ donor card. The situation here is just as bad and there are way too many people waiting and praying for replacement organs. Personally I have no issue with some of my body parts being removed after I am no longer alive, but I know it’s a sensitive topic. In my case I might not even be that useful since my illness will cause issues with tissue rejection, but who knows, sometimes even trivial stuff like a cornea, a blood vessel, a bone, a tendon, a part of your oesophagus and so on can mean the world to someone, so I’m all for it. For more info head over to the DSO site and maybe I’ll get around to writing a longer article one of these days that may help to alleviate some of the fears people may have.

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