How to Keep Your Ostomy Bag from Leaking – Part 1
This may be your current reality. You are housebound, isolated, afraid to go out into public because of constant leaks from your ostomy bag. You’ve heard others complain that they have to change their bags several times a month, and you stifle a cynical laugh. You wish you had it so good.
For you, the reality is upwards of five, even six times a day. Your morning routine has become one of automatically changing your bedsheets and popping all of the soiled towels you had wrapped around your midsection into the washing machine. Thankfully you thought of installing a plastic mattress protector early on. If not, you would be adding the cost of a new bed mattress to your skyrocketing ostomy appliance replacement costs.
6 Tips for Keeping Skin Dry While Minimizing Stoma Bag Leaks
Let’s be honest, … everyone experiences leaks. But the reality is they don’t have to happen so frequently that they wreck your day, or your life. Others have been where you are, and have come out on the bright end of the tunnel. The following list includes some techniques and products that they have used to get them there. For Part 1 of this article, keeping your skin as dry and non-slippery as possible is the name of the game.
Please note that there are a number of terms that are used interchangeably – wafer, barrier, flange – that may or may not be appropriate depending on the particular brand and system (i.e. 1-piece vs 2-piece) that you use for your ostomy appliance. These terms refer to the part of your appliance that sticks directly to your skin.
1. When bathing, choose your soap carefully. Don’t use soap with added oil or moisturizers. White soaps (i.e. Dove, Ivory) tend to work best to cleaning the skin while leaving less slippery residue.
2. Change your appliance in the morning whenever possible. Replacing the wafer or flange after not eating all night helps to keep things dryer. If changes have to happen at another time, try fasting for 4-5 hours before changing.
3. Use a blow dryer to dry the skin around your stoma before putting on your appliance.
4. If your skin is already irritated from leaks, chances are that rashes and the like are only making adhesion of your appliance even more of a problem. Read here for recommended products and here for helpful supplements.
5. Too much residue on your skin from adhesives? After removing your current wafer or barrier, use a good adhesive remover on your skin, such as our founder’s favourite, Smith & Nephew’s Remove Wipes. Note: don’t just use baby wipes. Like the wrong kinds of soap, they often have oil, moisturizers, or additives that make skin more slippery.
6. Watch your diet. If your output is super runny, it may be more likely to cause leaks. Also if it’s too acidic. Need to go gluten free? Decrease your fruit intake. Maybe see a nutritionist, but try reading this and this first.
So there’s the “keeping it dry” list. Chances are there are some options here you have never tried before. Now go ahead. Experiment. Be patient with the process. Don’t give up. You have too much to gain.
Have you discovered any drying products or techniques that have been anti-leaking game-changers for you? Please take a moment and share them below in the “Comments” section for our other readers.