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External incontinence devices



External incontinence devices are products, called appliances, worn on the outside of the body to protect the skin from constant leakage of stool or urine. Certain medical conditions can cause a person to frequently lose control of their bowel or bladder.

Alternative Names

Condom catheter; Incontinence devices; Fecal collection devices


Although there are several different products available, the general features of these products are described below.


Several devices are available for managing long-term diarrhea or fecal incontinence. These devices have a drainable pouch attached to an adhesive wafer. This wafer has a hole cut through the center that fits over the anal opening (rectum).

With proper application, a fecal incontinence device may remain in place for 24 hours. It is important to remove the pouch if any stool leakage has occurred. Liquid stool is very irritating to the skin.

If leakage has occurred, always clean the skin and apply a new pouch.

The device should be applied to clean, dry skin:

  • A protective skin barrier (such as a paste) may be prescribed by your healthcare provider. You apply it to the skin before attaching the device. You can put the paste in the skin folds of the buttocks to prevent liquid stool from leaking through this area.
  • Spread the buttocks apart, exposing the rectum, and apply the wafer and pouch. It may help to have someone assist you. The device should cover the skin with no gaps or creases.
  • You may need to trim the hair around the rectum to help the wafer stick better to the skin.

An enterostomal therapy nurse or skin care nurse can provide you with a list of products that are available in your area. (See also: Skin care and incontinence)


Urine collection devices are primarily used by men. (Women are generally treated with medication and disposable garments like Depends.)

The systems for men usually consist of a pouch or condom-like device that is securely placed around the penis. This is often called a condom catheter. A drainage tube is attached at the tip of the device to remove urine. The drainage tube empties into a storage bag, which can be emptied directly into the toilet.

Condom catheters are most effective when applied to a clean, dry penis. You may need to trim the hair around the pubic area so the device attatches better.

You must change the device at least every other day to protect the skin and prevent urinary tract infections. Make sure the condom device fits snugly but not too tightly. (If it's too tight, skin damage may occur.)


Payne CK. Conservative management of urinary incontinence: Behavioral and pelvic floor therapy, urethral and pelvic devices. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 63.

Rao SSC. Fecal incontinence. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 17.

Review Date: 6/17/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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