These products should be used only on advice from a doctor or nurse. Most are available on prescription.
Click on the links below for information on the different types of product available
A catheter is a very thin hollow tube which is inserted into the bladder to drain the urine away. It must be used on a doctor's advice only.
An intermittent catheter is removed as soon as the urine has drained away. This may be done several times a day. Some children may have a specially constructed urinary pouch (a mitrofanoff) into which they insert the catheter.
A catheter valve at the front and different urine bags above
Some catheters are lubricated to make them easier to put in. Where possible children are taught to do this for themselves. There are special mirrors which can be fitted on to the toilet bowl or wheelchair to help.
Mirror on the loo helps when inserting a catheter
Indwelling catheters are connected to a urine bag and left in for longer. The bag is emptied when necessary through a tap. There are different types and sizes of bags. Some can be worn strapped to the thigh or in a leg bag holder or in underwear. The bag doesn't show under shorts or skirts.
Urine bags can be concealed in a sports skirt
A useful alternative for older children is a catheter valve, which is released at regular intervals. It is very important not to allow the bladder to become overfull.
A penile sheath is a soft sleeve which fits over the penis to collect urine and is attached to a urine bag.
Different types of penile sheath
The sheath is kept in place with a separate adhesive strip. Sheaths are made in latex or non-latex materials and come in different shapes and sizes. It is very important that the child is measured and learns how to fit the sheath correctly.
Sheaths can be used during the day, at night or left continuously for 24 hours and then changed. Many older boys prefer them to pads, especially when they are away from home.
If the penis is very small a body-worn urinal is best. There are several designs depending on the type of leakage. These appliances can be left on for longer periods. They are normally fitted by a nurse or an appliance practitioner who can advise on the type which is best for your child.
Body-worn appliances for boys
Urinals for boys and girls and non-spill adaptor for boys.
- Sheaths and urinals should be the correct size, to allow the penis to change size.
- Sheaths and urinals should not be too loose or they may leak and fall off.
- Sheaths with a bulbous outlet are less likely to kink.
- It is important to wash and dry thoroughly the penis and surrounding area before putting on a fresh appliance.
- Washing and drying the appliances regularly will help to prolong their use.
- No appliance can be guaranteed to be 100% waterproof. The risk of leaks is lessened by wearing the appliance according to the instructions.
- Many manufacturers have a free Helpline and supply a measure or sizing kit.
The anal plug is a small foam tampon with a long string for easy removal. It is inserted into the bottom and can be left in for up to 12 hours. It is useful for swimming or when out at special occasions. Not all children find the plug comfortable. It is available on prescription.
Anal plug - closed on the left and open on the right
Plastic pants or a special drop-front pant can be worn under ordinary swimwear to retain solids.
Swimwear for boys left and girls right.
An enuresis alarm rings when it senses the first few drops of urine. It should wake your child in time to stop wetting the bed. Gradually, this helps him or her learn how to hold on to a full bladder. They are usually recommended for children over seven and should be used only on advice from a doctor or nurse.
There are two types:
- a bedside alarm has a sensor pad under the bottom sheet, connected to a control box beside the bed
- a personal or mini alarm has a sensor worn inside a slim pad, or Y-fronts for boys, connected to a control box pinned to a nightie or pyjama jacket.
The alarms are available with sound, flashing light and vibrating controls.
A cordless bedside enuresis alarm
Wearing a personal mini alarm
There are two useful products:
- a toilet bowl alarm. It has a sensor with a control box with sound, flashing light and vibrating controls or it can play your child's favourite audio-tape. It sounds when a few drops of urine hit the bowl. It can go in a toilet or commode pan
- a timer alarm: a digital watch set to sound at regular intervals to remind your child to use the loo.
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