Written by: Helena Engqvist
The third major category is adult incontinence products. Although a quite young segment, growth is rapid due to the increasing share of older people. People today live longer and stay active many more years than their grand-parents. But, with higher age many other problems occur. Some of these are life-style related like obesity, diabetes and cardiological and hip and knee-problems, as well as adult incontinence. The latter is still a taboo topic in most parts of the world although awareness is increasing. Media and medical professionals highlight this problem and organizations engage opinion leaders and celebrities to talk about incontinence and what can be done about it. And, absorbent incontinence products are developed to meet the needs of each individual, man or woman, based on absorption capacity, design and level of incontinence with pads, inserts, pants and full-size diapers.
Products are becoming both more readily available and accepted and today one can buy absorbent incontinence products in almost any retail store or pharmacy, something that was impossible just some years ago; or why not order via the internet and get the products just by the door.
Another growing segment is wipes, mainly made by spunlaced or air-laid nonwovens of multiple fibre compositions. Wet wipes help improve personal hygiene when water is scarce or when travelling. They make it easy to wash the little ones when changing diapers or just in all situations to clean hands, face, body or even pets. Other uses can be found in cleaning surfaces at home, cars and many technical areas. Some of the new wipes can also provide disinfection from various types of bacteria and viruses. Such wipes will become increasingly valuable in the future.
What do Healthcare Associated Infections have to do with nonwovens?
Healthcare associated infections, HAI, can be defined as infections acquired in healthcare facilities by patients who have been admitted for reasons other than those infections. Such infections can cause pain and even death to a high number of patients in various healthcare settings. HAI also stand for pro-longed hospital stay and high additional treatment cost and are therefore at the top of the agenda of governments, authorities and healthcare providers. In this context, single-use nonwoven based products play a major role.
For example, in the operating room single-use nonwoven surgical drapes and gowns are important in providing a safe and clean environment. Single-use nonwoven surgical drapes and gowns are used only once and then destroyed by incineration. The requirements of gowns are very high, giving surgical staff the best security against contamination combined with expectations of comfort and ease of use. Specific hydrophobic treatments are important to withstand body fluids that may occur during a surgery. Surgical drapes that serve to protect patients during surgery are usually laminated with a plastic film as well as treated with hydrophobic or hydrophilic agents for optimal performance. In these categories various types of spunlaid nonwovens (SMS, SMMS, etc.) are favoured, followed by spunlaced and to lesser degree chemical bonded nonwovens.