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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. 

Smith & Nephew Remove Wipes 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.

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14 Replies to “How to Keep Your Ostomy Bag from Leaking – Part 1”

  1. My husband had his bladder removed 2 months ago. I am still trying to figure out how to keep his pouch from leaking. We go from once a day to 3 times a day. I am so frustrated.

  2. My daughter has a colostomy and keeps leaking under the wafer and we’ve tried everything to keep it from leaking so what should we do now

    1. Hi Edwina,

      Thanks for reaching out to us. Sorry to hear about your difficulties here. It could be that you need to try another manufacturers product to see if the fit is better. If you are based in Canada, give our customer care line a call and we will try to get you set up with some samples.

      Thanks again!

  3. I have a colonostomy bag that is leaking at the bottom. I need to know what to do to stop it. The Doctors put it on there because I have a bag for urine. 4 yrs ago I had a abscess and it busted and the doctors cleaned it out so the hole now has urine coming out of it so they use the colonostomy bag for it. Could you tell me why it leaking at the bottom where you put the clip.

    1. HI Carolyn,

      Thanks for leaving a comment on our site. It sounds like you are having a tough time with your ostomy. Given the nature of your current situation describe, we would recommend making an appointment right away with an ET/WOCN nurse and/or your doctor to get you into a different set of ostomy products or devices.

      You can also reach out to Hollister Canada (1.800.263.7400), Coloplast Canada (1-866-293-6349) or ConvaTec Canada (1-800-465-6302) directly to get their advice by calling their customer service departments. They have terrific support and can send you samples.

      Best wishes on finding an accurate solution.

  4. Husband has Ileostomy and I might get 2 days max before a leak occurs! Today I had to change everything twice. I clean skin and use the aroma powder for any irritated skin. Also his stoma is not protruding as much as it did when he first came home from hospital. It’s almost level with his skin. Could this be causing the leaking problem??

    1. Hi Karen,

      Thank you for reaching out. The issue you are experiencing with the stoma flattening out a bit, … you may want to speak to an ET Nurse to get instructions on next steps. If you are experiencing frequent leaks, it is important to try other products to find the best fit. An ET can help you. Alternatively, contact Hollister, Coloplast and ConvaTec for samples to see what works best. Salts, Braun and Marlen are also other reputable brands.


      InnerGood Customer Care

  5. I have a major problem with leakage because of this I don’t go out and feel isolated and depressed help me please

    1. Hi Eleanor,

      We sent you a separate email with next steps. Thank you for reaching out to us for assistance.

      InnerGood Customer Care.

  6. I am having issues sleeping on my back since had my illeduct conduit due to my bladder removed this Feb. I had a back injury years ago and it hurts sciatica down my leg. I need another way to sleep. Any advice I always now sleep on my back and bothers me and not getting proper sleep. Any good pillows to get etc or ways to help. Please! Thanks

    1. Sorry to hear of your troubles Heather. Changing positions that you sleep in can be challenging to get used to. We would recommend seeing a Physiotherapist that specializes around people who have had similar surgeries first. They may be able to help you work through the sciatica issues, or be able to recommend a different pillow or mattress.

      Our CMO uses Melatonin PR by Douglas Labs as a sleep aid regularly, and that works well for him. Consult your doctor or Naturopath first however before taking sleep aids.

      Best wishes!

  7. I have an ileostomy, but I don’t have a stoma-it is recessed.
    There is a crease that always leaks. Can I use paste to fill in the crease and still put the ring on the skin barrier?

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