Canterbury Ostomy Society - Avoiding Leakage - Canterbury, New Zealand

Avoiding a leak

Common Causes of Leakage

There are many reasons why ostomy pouches leak. Below are 10 of the most common problems, with suggestions for handling them. For further information consult your physician or S.T. Nurse.

  1. Poor Adherence to Peristomal Skin:
    Make sure that your peristomal skin is "bone dry" before applying your pouch. Hold a warm hand over the pouch and stoma for 30-60 seconds after application to warm it and assure a good initial seal.
  2. WrongSize of Pouch Opening:
    If the size of your stoma has changed (due to post-operative shrinkage or change in weight) and you have not yet remeasured and adapted the opening accordingly, undermining of the wafer and leakage may be the result.
  3. Folds or Creases:
    If folds or creases develop in the skin, and leakage always occurs along the crease, wafer pieces or ostomy paste can be used to build up the area in order to avoid leakage. Consult your S.T. Nurse for proper methods.
  4. Peristomal Skin Irritation:
    Pouches will not stick well to irritated skin, so perform meticulous skin care in order to avoid irritated or denuded skin. If any of these problems develop, consult your S.T. Nurse or physician at once, so that the problem can be nipped in the bud.
  5. Improper Pouch Angle:
    If the pouch does not hang vertically, the weight of it's contents can exercise uneven twisting pull on the wafer and cause leakage. Ostomates must find an angle based on individual body configuration.
  6. Too frequent emptying:
    Pouches should be emptied before they become full. If they are allowed to overfill, weight of effluent may break the seal and cause leakage.
  7. Extremely High Temperature:
    Wafer meltout may cause leakage in warm weather. More frequent pouch changes or a change in wafer material may be needed to avoid leakage.
  8. Pouch Wear and Tear:
    Disposable wafers do wear out. If you are stretching your wear time to a week or more, leakage may be due to the wafer wearing out. Change your appliance more frequently.
  9. Improperly Stored Appliances:
    Storing of appliances in a warm or humid place (as the bathroom) may effect the pouch adhesive. So, store your ostomy supplies in a cool, dry place.
  10. Ageing Materials:
    Appliances do not last forever.

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