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“How Does a Sheath Stay On?” – Common Sheath Problems and their Solutions

When used successfully, sheaths can greatly enhance a user’s quality of life, providing peace of mind and allowing the user to continue with day-to-day life. But with incorrect usage, they can go wrong, which can lead to wet clothes or bedding, skin irritation and discomfort. Take a look at some of the most common problems, and how to solve them.

How do I fit a sheath? – Sheath fitting problems

If a sheath is fitted too close to the tip, the urine has nowhere to flow, which causes backflow. This is when the urine cannot go down the sheath, so it starts to run up, getting between the adhesive and the skin and causing the sheath to come off. The below diagram shows the best placement of the sheath, with a gap between the funnel of the sheath and the tip of the penis.

Wrong size 

You may think if your sheath is coming off, that it’s because it is too big, but it can also be because it is too small, if the sheath is too tight and there is too much resistance from the skin, this can cause it to unroll or pop off. If you think your sheath may be the wrong size, try samples one size smaller and one size bigger just to be sure

Skin Preparation

Preparing the skin is incredibly important for fitting a sheath. It helps ensure the adhesive performs as expected and is not impeded by anything. To prepare the skin for a sheath, make sure that first the skin has been thoroughly washed with soap and water and then dried. Any residual water on the skin will affect the adhesive. Make sure you are not using a moisturising soap as this can leave a residue on the skin, as can any creams or oils. 


Pubic hairs not held back

Long or untrimmed pubic hairs can cause problems as if they get between the sheath and the skin, they can create channels for the urine to flow back along. Every box of libra sheaths comes with a box of pubic hair protectors to help keep pubic hair pushed back. You can also trim your pubic hair with scissors to ensure it is not long enough to get caught. We do not recommend shaving the pubic hair as this can cause skin irritation.


Wrong Style

It is not just incorrect sizing that can cause problems with sheaths, not using the correct style can also create problems. Libra Sheaths come in three different styles: Standard, Pop-On and Wide Band. Pop-On sheaths are shorter and designed for people who have issues with retraction and Wide Band sheaths have a longer band of adhesive for those who have issues keeping traditional sheaths in place.


Weight or season changes

One of the most common reasons for a change in sheath size is weight change, it is important to be reassessed for a sheath if you have had any recent significant weight changes as this can affect your sheath size. A change in seasons can also affect sheath size, infact, many patients find they have a summer size and a winter size. Increases in sweat in the summer and retraction in the winter, can cause sheath size to fluctuate. If you find your sheaths are no longer fitting, and you have had no significant weight changes, it may be down to the weather. Contact one of our Nightingale Nurses to book an assessment.


No recent assessment

We recommend patients get assessed for sheaths every 6-12 months to ensure not only that there are no issues from sheath usage such as skin irritation, but also that the products being used are still the most suitable. If it has been longer than this since your last sheath assessment, you can book one with our Nightingale Nurses


Not correctly connecting to valve or bag

If a sheath is not correctly connected to either the valve or the leg bag, it can slip off and leak.

We recommend pushing the connector on until just over the second ridge, this should provide a tight enough fit to stop urine leaking from this connection point.



Not wrapping hand around sheath to warm adhesive

When putting a sheath on, it is important to wrap your hand around the sheath on the penis to warm the adhesive and ensure it is properly bonded to the skin.


How do I remove a sheath? – Sheath removal problems

If removed properly, sheaths should slide off easily, leaving behind no residue and not damaging the skin.  The best way to remove a sheath is with a washcloth and warm soapy water, slowly rolling the sheath up from the base. If removing this way causes difficulty or pain, try a Medical Adhesive Remover Spray. If you spray this around the base of the sheath, it will release easily.


Adhesive residue

Using sheaths for a while can cause adhesive residue to build up which soap and water may not necessarily be sufficient to remove, medical adhesive remover wipes are specifically designed to remove this buildup and ensure the skin is properly prepared for a fresh sheath.


Skin irritation

If you suffer from any skin irritation whilst using a sheath, it is important to stop using the products and contact a healthcare professional immediately. Skin damage can have a serious effect on your quality of life so it’s important to constantly check that there is no redness, soreness or visible damage to the skin of any area where you would use an adhesive product.


Other sheath problems


How do I measure myself for a sheath?

Many patients when measuring themselves for sheaths end up with the wrong size, not due to reading the measuring guide incorrectly, but due to their measuring technique. It is important to be either stood up or laid flat when measuring as sitting down can cause retraction that otherwise would not occur. It is also important not to retract the foreskin as the sheath needs to go over it so it is important to keep in place when measuring. To measure yourself for a sheath, stand up or lie flat, and place the sheath measuring guide over the widest part of the penis. If you are between two sizes, go with the one which feels more secure. Remember you can request samples of the Libra Sheath in multiple sizes, to ensure you have the perfect fit before committing to a full order.


How to store sheaths?

It’s important to ensure your sheaths are stored correctly, at room temperature and not in an airing cupboard or garage as if it is too hot or cold, the sheaths can stick together, making them difficult to unroll.

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“How Does a Sheath Stay On?” – Common Sheath Problems and their Solutions