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Six Tips for Avoiding Ostomy Leakage

Leakage of your stomal output can happen for a variety of reasons. Explore some prevention tips to help you avoid leaks.

Learn how to help prevent stoma fluid leakage.

Making sure your ostomy pouch adheres appropriately will go a long way towards preventing leaks. Here are some tips for staying leak-free:

Put a high priority on ostomy skin health. Damaged skin around your stoma can be hard to manage because you need to place the pouching ostomy system over the irritated area. Being proactive with your peristomal skin health is so important.

Suggestions:

  • Follow these routine skincare tips
    • Consider the use of a ceramide-infused skin barrier, which has been demonstrated to support skin health
    • Contact your stoma care nurse right away if you notice signs of a peristomal skin complication. 

Make sure your skin barrier fits appropriately. A skin barrier that fits nicely around your stoma helps protect your skin from irritation or damage by drainage. It doesn’t matter whether your stoma is large or small, or whether it protrudes or not, as long as the drainage flows into your pouch without leaking under the skin barrier.

Suggestions:

  • Your stomas shape and size will change often after surgery. Measure the stoma using a stoma measuring guide before every barrier application. 
  • Apply the skin barrier and make sure it fits where the skin and stoma meet
  • Verify that no skin is showing between the skin barrier and the stoma
  • If the skin is weepy or moist to the touch, considering applying a stoma powder to any open skin before applying your new pouching system. Discontinue the use of powder when peristomal skin is no longer weepy or moist. 

Change your ostomy pouch regularly. It is essential to change your ostomy pouch regularly before it is susceptible to leakage. An overfilled or overweight ostomy pouch causes undue strain on your skin barrier attached to the skin, leading to leakage.

Suggestions:

  • Change your pouch on a regular schedule before it leaks
  • Pouching system wear-time is based on personal preference, your unique stoma, and output
  • Twice a week changes are considered usual

Make sure your ostomy pouch is secure during exercise or physical activity. If you are participating in sporting activities or other forms of exercise, you can wear specific clothing or accessories that can help ease your concerns. The same goes for other “physical activities” (i.e. sex).

Suggestions:

  • Use a support garment or an ostomy wrap to keep the pouch securely in place
  • Try different sports attire, such as running tights or Lycra shorts, to see what works best
  • It’s also a good idea to empty your pouch before exercise or having sex

Take special care when removing your ostomy skin barrier. Improperly or rapidly removing your skin barrier could cause the skin to strip. The associated damage could lead to irritation, pain, and leaks.

Suggestions:

  • Take your time – gentle and slow is best.
  • Gently peel the barrier away from the skin, starting at the top and working downwards, pressing against the surrounding skin.

Find the right product mix for you. Many ostomy products and accessories are designed to ensure good skin health and help prevent leakage. However, every stoma is unique, so you will need to determine what is best for you by working with your stoma care nurse, as well as trial and error.

Suggestions:

  • Keep up on the latest products and research.
  • If you have broken skin around your stoma, use a stoma powder (not talcum powder) to absorb moisture and protect your peristomal skin.
  • Try other leakage prevention products, such as skin barrier rings, paste, and strips.

What to do if you have a leak

Following these preventive steps can help you prevent leaks. However, if you experience leakage, it is crucial to pinpoint the source. Contact your stoma care nurse for help.

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