Tips for Using Male External Catheters

Male External Catheters, also called condom catheters, are designed to be a secure leak-free method of draining urine from the bladder.  Remembering a few key points can provide a better experience for the user and for caregivers.

  1. Make sure the right size has been chosen.  If the diameter of external catheter is too large, the catheter will “bunch up” on the skin which can allow leakage to occur.  If the diameter of the external catheter is too small, the catheter may “pop off” which can produce a spill.
  2. Trim hair on the shaft and base of your penis.  It is much better to be overzealous with the trimming.  A razor and shaving cream produce the best results.  Use scissors or electric beard trimmer to trim surrounding hair to about ¼ inch.  This will ensure that the surrounding hair is not caught under the adhesive and result in pulling and/or leaking.
  3. Wash the skin of the penis very well with soap and water before applying the external catheter. It is best to not use soap that contains lotion.  Allow the skin to air dry.  If you have very oily skin or if you live in a climate that is extra humid, you may want to repeat the washing and air dry procedure.  If you do not have air conditioning, you should choose the coolest part of the day to change your catheter and have a fan blowing on you to minimize sweating.  Most external catheters are designed to stay on for 24 hours, but only if the skin is well cared for.
  4. Do not apply a male external catheter to skin that is inflamed, macerated, or has sores.  The skin on the penis must be healthy to use external catheters.
  5. Uncircumcised men should leave the foreskin in place over the head of the penis when applying an external catheter.
  6. After the catheter has been rolled onto the penis, make sure that there are no wrinkles; then gently squeeze for a few seconds. This is to ensure that the adhesive evenly adheres to the skin so that the chance of a “pop-off” is minimized.
  7. Always keep an underpad handy.  Pop-offs can and do happen.  If you external catheter unexpectedly comes off, use the underpad to catch any dribble while you get to an area where you can wash up and re-apply another catheter.
  8. Always maintain enough catheters on hand to get through 10 days.  This allows for bad weather or any other factor that might delay your catheter shipment .
  9. Never pull you catheter off.  Genltly roll it off the penis.  A warm washcloth will help loosen the adhesive.
  10. Check the skin between every change.