Preventing and controlling stoma leakage is crucial for individuals who have undergone ostomy surgery. It’s essential for ensuring comfort, confidence, and overall wellbeing.
How to prevent and control leakage requires a combination of appropriate stoma appliance selection, good hygiene, regular monitoring, and some lifestyle adjustments. By following these strategies and seeking support when needed, you can lead fulfilling lives with confidence and comfort.
It is important to remember that each person’s experience with a stoma is unique, so consult with your stoma care nurse for personalised advice and solutions.
How to prevent and control stoma leakage
Choose the right stoma bag: Selecting the appropriate stoma bag is the first step in preventing leakage. There are two main types of appliances: one-piece and two-piece systems. One-piece systems consist of a pouch and a skin barrier (wafer/flange) combined into a single unit, while two-piece systems have a separate pouch and barrier. The choice between these systems depends on individual preferences and stoma characteristics. Ensure that the appliance is the correct size and shape for your stoma to create a secure seal.
Maintain good hygiene: Proper hygiene is essential to prevent irritation and infection around the stoma site. Clean the skin around the stoma gently with warm water. If you feel you need to use a soap, try a mild, scent-free soap. Avoid using alcohol-based wipes, as they can be harsh on the skin. Pat the area dry with a soft towel and make sure it is completely clean and dry before applying a new appliance.
Stoma assessment: Regularly assess the condition of your stoma and the surrounding skin (peristomal skin). Look for any signs of skin irritation, redness, or changes in the stoma’s size and shape. If you notice any issues, or your stoma has changed shape or size contact your Stoma Care Nurse to be re-sized and for guidance on appliance adjustments or changes.
Use stoma accessories: Various stoma care accessories are available to enhance the security of your stoma pouch. These include stoma powder, barrier rings, and adhesive seals. Stoma powder can help absorb moisture and create a dry surface, while barrier rings and adhesive seals provide extra protection against leaks by filling in irregularities around the stoma.
Follow proper application techniques: Correctly applying your stoma pouch is essential to achieving a secure seal. Ensure that the skin barrier/flange fits snugly around the stoma without leaving any gaps. Smooth out any wrinkles or creases in the adhesive to prevent leakage. Be cautious not to apply the appliance too tightly, as this can lead to skin damage and feel uncomfortable too!
Choose the right pouch: Stoma pouches come in various styles, including closed-end, drainable, and urostomy pouches. Select the type that suits your needs and lifestyle. For example, if you have an ileostomy, you may prefer a drainable pouch for its convenience. Consider using pouches with built-in filters to help reduce gas and odour.
Monitor your diet: Your diet can significantly impact stoma output and the consistency of your stool. Pay attention to the foods you eat and their effect on your stoma output. Some foods may lead to increased gas or liquid output, which can increase the risk of leakage.
Empty your pouch regularly: Keep an eye on the level of output in your pouch and empty it when it’s about one-third to half full. Frequent emptying helps prevent excessive weight and pressure on the appliance, reducing the risk of leakage.
Be mindful of your activities: Certain activities may increase the risk of stoma leakage. Be cautious when participating in activities that involve vigorous movement, pressure on the abdomen, or tight clothing. Consider using a stoma guard or belt to protect your stoma during physical activities.
Seek support and education: Living with a stoma can be challenging, especially when it comes to preventing and managing leakage. Reach out to support groups and stoma care nurses who can provide guidance, tips, and emotional support. Education and emotional support can make a significant difference in your confidence and ability to manage your stoma effectively.
For more information on stoma leakage and living with a stoma, visit our handy stoma care advice centre.