Stoma bag leakage - causes and solutions

Your stoma bag is designed to stay fully sealed between putting it on and taking it off. But sometimes, despite your best efforts, you will still experience leakage.

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Generally speaking, your stoma bag should remain fully sealed and you should not experience any kind of leakage between putting it on and taking it off. Sometimes, however, leakage will happen. Spotting it early is key as it will help you to catch potential skin problems before they had a chance to develop.


What causes your stoma bag to leak?

Hole size: If the hole in the adhesive skin barrier is too big for your stoma, the skin around it will be exposed to stool or urine. This can cause leaks and damage your skin in due course.

Creases and folds: Creases and folds in your skin may be the cause why your adhesive plate doesn’t stick properly. This means that you don’t have a proper seal and that output can leak out onto the skin causing damage.

Moist skin: Although adhesive skin barriers are designed to manage the moistness of the skin, excessive moisture might be a problem as it can break down the adhesive, causing leakage and skin irritation.

Adhesive detaching from the skin: As the edges of the adhesive detach from the skin, small channels will develop which the output of your stoma can leak through. Generally, detaching edges happen if the adhesive isn’t big or flexible enough to accommodate your movements or stretching or if the adhesive hasn’t been applied properly. It can also come away from the skin due to intense or repeated movements or moist and greasy skin.

Wear time: If you are wearing your adhesive barrier for longer than recommended, you might find that it is more likely to detach from the skin. Be especially careful if you’re physically active as this can affect the wear time of your adhesive.

Ballooning: Air from the stoma can cause your ostomy bag to expand. This happens when the air from the stoma inflates the bag is unable to escape through the inbuilt filter. The air will then cause pressure, causing the adhesive barrier to detach from the skin This generally leads to leakage that can be quite extensive.

Pancaking: Pancaking means that a vacuum will develop where the inside of your pouch sticks to the stoma. This usually leads to the stoma output not moving down into the pouch but building up on top of the stoma. Often, this is helped by lubricating the inside of your ostomy bag.


What can you do about stoma bag leakage?

To make sure your skin barrier is stuck to the skin properly, it is important that you apply the baseplate to completely dry skin. When fitting your baseplate, make sure that hole in it is about 1/8 inch bigger in size than your stoma.

Change to new products: There is a chance that you’re not using the best products for your individual needs. For example, if your stoma is retracted in the skin, it might be more prone to leakage. For these types of stomas, a convex shaped barrier might be more helpful. There are also moldable seals, powders, adhesives, ad wipes specifically designed to prevent leaks and to manage stoma issues.

Drain and change the bag regularly: Generally, you should take every opportunity you have to empty or change your ostomy bag. As a rule of thumb, a drainable bag should be emptied when it’s about a third full. Be especially careful if you’re a very active person. If that’s the case, it’s always best to empty or change your bag when you have the chance – no matter whether it’s a third full or not.

Pack & carry a kit: To be as prepared as possible, it’s a good idea to pack a kit to take with you. Such a kit is likely going to contain a pre-cut skin barrier, replacement pouches, barrier wipes, odour-killer spray, as well as airtight waste bags for discreet disposal. Always make sure to keep the kit on you if you’re out and about and keep it nearby if you’re at home, work, or school. If you get your products through Vyne, we provide you with a carry case so you can store everything safely – along with plenty of waste bags and wipes. So you can keep all your kit conveniently in one place!

Proper clothing: If you walk a lot, make sure that you are wearing clothes that allow for enough breathing room for your stoma and your appliances. This means that the friction caused by your clothing will be decreased which will, in turn, decrease the irritation of the baseplate against the skin.