If you’ve ever had a stoma bag leakage, then you’ll know they are no fun. But you shouldn’t have to live in fear of leakages.
Often those who have experienced a leakage feel like there’s nothing that could help prevent it, but you may be surprised to learn that very often it is something you have a lot control over.
Have a read of our top tips for preventing stoma leakages and find out if there’s something you could try today to help prevent leakages in the future.
Stomas can regularly alter in size and shape for various reasons, particularly during the post-operative period when swelling caused by surgery starts to decrease. But even an established stoma can change in shape and size over time, and this is most often due to weight loss or weight gain.
This is why it’s important to regularly measure the size of your stoma to make sure you’re getting a snug fit, which can help to reduce output seeping through any gaps.
The contours of your body can also play a big part in ill-fitting stoma bags. You may have a protruding stoma, it may point upwards, downwards or sidewards. Don’t worry if this sounds like you – every stoma is unique, and there are products available to suit a range of stoma shapes and sizes. A well fitted pouch with a good secure seal should be all it takes to prevent leaks.
Charlie from ConvaTec’s me+™ Advocate Team experienced issues with leakages in the past but found her solution simply by changing products.
She said: "I thought life was never going to be the same. I couldn’t go out anywhere with the baby without being afraid the bag was going to leak. Wearing anything tight like jeans was a no-no as that increased the chance of a leak. I just wanted to concentrate on being a mum, not worrying about bags and leaks."
She said: "It was an instant win. I didn’t expect much from the samples, I just thought leaks were something to put up with, so I was shocked and amazed at how well they worked.
"I can go out without worrying and eat without panicking. It really has been life changing."
This technology can be helpful for lots of people living with a stoma. A stoma can change size over time, but ConvaTec Mouldable Technology™ reacts to any changes in your stoma size and shape. This should reduce the potential for leakage and sore skin.
Convex baseplates are another option if you’re struggling with leakages. Designed for longer days, ConvaTec’s Esteem™+ Soft Convex bags offer extra security meaning you can enjoy those longer summer nights and put leakages to the back of your mind.
New to ConvaTec's range, Soft Convex baseplates are suitable for a wide range of body profiles, making them the ideal solution for those with uneven skin surfaces and or those with a hernia.
Not only can a stoma leakage be embarrassing, it’s also the skin's worst enemy. If you’re still struggling with leakages even after trying different products, Stomahesive® Seals could help. These offer a simple and effective way to protect the skin around the stoma. They can be custom moulded or stacked to fit individual patient needs and can also be broken and rejoined and used in combination with paste.
If you’re into your sports or you’re thinking about starting to get active, using a hernia support belt can be useful with sports as it stops the pouch getting knocked or pulled away from the stoma.
Another top tip is to empty your stoma bag before you start physical activity to reduce the risk of leakage due to the bag being too full.
Another culprit for stoma bag leakages is moist skin underneath the baseplate, which may be a sign of maceration. Maceration is when the skin around the stoma becomes overhydrated because of prolonged exposure to moisture. Making sure the skin around your stoma is dry before applying your bag helps the adhesive to stick, meaning less chance of an uncomfortable leakage.
If you think you have skin maceration, then please be sure to seek advice from your stoma nurse as soon as possible.
Another top tip to try for preventing stoma bag leakage is to empty the bag before it gets too full, which is another common cause of leakage. Letting your bag get too full can cause it to get too heavy which can ultimately lead to leakage as the barrier is pulled away from the skin.
People who have liquid output may experiences leakages more than others, which is where our Diamonds™ Gelling and Odour Control Sachets could help. These easy to use sachets turn your liquid stoma output into an easy to manage gel. Not only does this result in greater comfort, but users often find that Diamonds™ sachets help prevent leakage and sleep disruptions caused by the need to drain or release gas.
If you often suffer from leakages at night time, Diamonds could be the perfect solution, solidifying the liquid contents of your stoma bag for peace of mind that you won’t wake up to any accidents.
“Diamonds are incredible - they absorb anything in my stoma bag - on long train journeys for example - I no longer have any embarrassing accidents.” Sylvia, Cambridge
Despite the wrong product being a common cause of bag leakage, remember that not all bag leakages are caused because of your bag. Very often diet can be a key cause of leakages. Leakage can be caused by watery output, and watery output can be caused by dietary changes. If you have changed your diet and also noticed an increase in bag leakages then you should address your diet to see if anything could be causing this watery output.
If you notice a persistent change in the consistency of output it could also be possible that you have got a bug. If you suspect this may be the case then you should visit your GP who may request a sample.
A lot of people with a stoma don’t realise that hair around the stoma can actually weaken the adhesive effect of the baseplate. This can also lead to leakages. Be sure to shave the area around your stoma site using a razor but make sure to be very careful when doing so. Dry shaving using a stoma powder is recommended to avoid any irritation from soap or shaving cream.