People who go through colostomy surgery require an ostomy pouch. An opening is made on the abdomen, known as a stoma, during this surgery. The stoma helps stool pass out through the hole instead of through the rectum and bowels. Patients require an ostomy bag to collect stool and protect the stoma.
In some cases, the ostomy bag can start leaking, preventing the patient from performing everyday tasks. If you’re struggling with the same issue, keep reading, as we’ve listed some of the common causes of a leaking ostomy bag and how you can prevent it.
Why do Ostomy Bags leak?
This is one of the most common questions that people with ostomy bags ask. Of course, you don’t want to feel irritated and uncomfortable due to your leaking ostomy bag. Several factors can cause ostomy bags to leak. This includes:
- Uneven skin
- Changes to stoma size and shape
- Wrong product
- Ill-fitting skin barriers
- Not emptying and changing your bag
Fortunately, you can resolve most of these issues by making small changes to your diet or switching to a higher quality product.
Tips to Avoid Ostomy Bag Leakage
If you’re struggling with a leaking ostomy bag and can’t find a solution to the problem, here are a few tips to help you out.
Look for the Right Type of Ostomy Skin Barrier
First, look for the correct ostomy supplies that work best for your stoma and unique body. Choosing the right type and size of the skin barrier is important because it will adhere perfectly and protect your skin from leaks and irritation. The idea of an ostomy bag is to collect fluid from the ostomy and prevent fluid from accumulating around or underneath the skin barrier.
If your stoma recesses or flushes below your skin level, consult a health expert and ask them to place a convex skin barrier instead of a flat skin barrier. This way, you can easily do your daily task without feeling uncomfortable. Also, convex skin barriers are a great option for people with:
- Rounded abdomens
- Recessed or flushed stomas
- Skin with creases and folds
Change the Ostomy Bag Regularly
This is the most common mistake people often make. It’s crucial to change your pouch regularly before it starts leaking. Excessive weight causes strain on your ostomy bag and skin barrier, which results in leaking.
So, set a schedule to change your pouch before it’s susceptible to leaks. Also, ask your health consultant how long you can wear a pouch, as the wear time for an ostomy bag differs from user to user. Generally, people change their ostomy bag at least twice a week.
Opt for an Ostomy Belt
If you can’t find a skin or product-related issue that’s causing your ostomy bag to leak, you may need to use an ostomy belt for additional support. This is also good for people who face leakage issues after physical activity or simple movements.
You can fix the ostomy bag to the ostomy belt and wrap it around your waist. This offers a secure and comfortable fit that supports the weight of your ostomy pouch. Even if you don’t deal with leaks, using this approach is a great way to prevent leaks in the first place. Whether you’re looking forward to incorporating walking, running, yoga, or weight lifting in your workout routine, getting a belt is an effective measure before engaging in physical activity.
Apply Ostomy Skin Barrier to Dry, Clean, and Shaved Skin
Applying your skin barrier to clean and dry skin can save you from several problems. You need to think about the most important thing before keeping the ostomy pouch on your body. So, every time you take a bath or go for a swim, pat your skin dry with a towel.
Avoid any type of alcohol-based or oily soaps. Lotions or hair removal creams around your stoma. Purchase ostomy-safe skincare products to avoid skin-related issues. People with body hair in the peristomal area can use a safety razor to remove hair. Moreover, if you face excessive hair growth, shaving the area a couple of times a week will help ensure a secure seal for your ostomy skin barrier.
Carefully Remove Skin Barrier
Removing your skin barrier too quickly can damage the skin. As a result, you might feel pain, irritation, and leaks. Also, most people who face this issue try to avoid applying skin barriers in the same place. This way, they end up misapplying skin barriers, resulting in excessive leakages.
Next time, when you need to remove the skin barrier, take your time to remove it gently. Also, carefully peel the barrier from your skin. Start at the top while slowly pressing the skin. You can prevent stripping the skin by opening it when you’re not in a rush and have plenty of time. This way, you can avoid making mistakes. If you find it difficult, take help from your friends or family, or visit the clinic to replace your ostomy bag.
Opt for the Right Product
Several ostomy accessories and products are available in the market. Ask your health expert to suggest an ostomy bag based on your health condition, skin type, and stoma. If not, you can test a couple of products to find out which will work for you.
Make sure to always opt for the latest products. For people with irritated and damaged skin around the stoma, use talcum powder or stoma powder to prevent peristomal skin. You can also opt for the skin barrier paste, rings, and strips to reduce the risk of leaking.
Wearing an ostomy bag is important, if not necessary, for some patients. Therefore, it’s better to learn how you can avoid leakage issues by taking preventative measures. Use the tips above for a comfortable ostomy bag-wearing experience.