3 Simple Steps for Stopping Ostomy Leakage
When it comes to preventing ostomy pouch leakage, it’s important to remember these three words: fit, seal, and simplicity.
Take these three practical steps to stop ostomy pouch leaks in their tracks.
If you’re experiencing ostomy bag leakage, it can be hard to figure out how to stop it. Below are three easy-to-remember steps you can take to help stop leaks and get back to living your life.
- Find the Right Fit – The first step is to make sure you have a skin barrier that is the right size and fits well around your stoma. A flat skin barrier might seem like a good idea because it is likely the type of barrier you were using when you were discharged from the hospital after surgery. However, if your skin barrier is leaking and/or your stoma is in a skin fold or crease, it can be more difficult to achieve the seal necessary to stop leaks. You might need to consider a convex skin barrier – see the discussion about convexity below.
Another thing to consider is that stomas can change in size and shape over time – especially in the first six to eight weeks after surgery. Weight loss or gain can also impact the appearance of your stoma. It’s a good idea to measure your stoma every time you change your skin barrier to ensure that the barrier fits properly and protects your skin from stoma fluid. The skin barrier should fit close to the stoma, without touching it and without any skin showing.
- Achieve a Secure Seal – The second step is to ensure a good seal around the stoma. Leakage occurs not only when stoma output seeps out from under the edge of the skin barrier, but also when output gets stuck between the skin and skin barrier instead of falling into the pouch. To stop these types of leaks, it’s important to look at where your stoma is located on your abdomen and how far it protrudes from your skin. If your stoma is level with your skin, located in a skin crease or fold, or is still healing after surgery, you may need to use a convex skin barrier to help prevent leakage.
Convex skin barriers apply downward pressure on the skin surrounding the stoma to help the stoma protrude more and make it easier for output to go into the pouch. When using a convex skin barrier, you should first try it without a barrier ring. The closer the skin barrier convexity is to the base of the stoma, the better seal it will create. If a good seal is still not achieved, you can try incorporating a barrier ring.
- Remember that Less is More – The final step is to keep your ostomy skin care routine as simple as possible. Some ostomates believe that using baby wipes or applying lotion on the skin around the stoma will help protect it. However, these products contain oils that can keep the skin barrier from achieving a good seal. If you are experiencing any peristomal skin issues, it’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s care instructions. For most people with ostomies, water is sufficient for cleaning healthy skin. If soap is needed, select a mild bar soap with no added oils, moisturizers, or fragrances.
In addition, keep in mind that sometimes skin preparation agents and wipes can be mistaken for adhesives because they leave a tacky or sticky residue on the skin. However, these products are designed to create a film that will prevent the skin from stripping caused by changing the skin barrier frequently. While useful in certain situations, skin prepping agents can interfere with how the skin barrier adheres, which may result in leaks.
Skin barrier paste can also be mistaken for an adhesive. While the paste is designed to fill in uneven skin surfaces near the stoma and improve the fit of the skin barrier, too much paste can prevent a good seal. It may be a better idea to use a barrier ring to fill in skin creases and folds.
If you have tried these steps, but are still experiencing ostomy leaks, be sure to reach out to your healthcare provider. You can also call Hollister Secure StartSM services at 888.808.7456. Our team can help you troubleshoot your issue or find other product options.