5 Ways to Prevent Ostomy Leakages

Most people living with a stoma experience leakages occasionally, and there's no need to panic.

However, taking the time to understand why the leak happened is a big step towards preventing it from becoming a persistent problem. Like anything that stops you from feeling confident, it's best tackled straight away. This is especially important right now, when you may be isolated from your usual support network.

This article details some of the likeliest causes of leakages, as well as exploring practical ways to manage them and minimise the chances of it happening again.

1. Look after the skin around your stoma
According to one report1, around 75% of people living with an ostomy develop a problem with the skin around the stoma. Another study2 reveals that an alarming 63% of people who experience a skin problem around the stoma don't talk to their nurse or healthcare professional about the issue.

Don't be part of the 'silent majority.' If your stoma appliance does not fit properly, it can lead to leakage and peristomal skin complications (PSC).

Just as importantly, research shows that even mild skin problems can have an impact on your general well-being. It can also adversely affect your ability to enjoy life, making you more inclined to isolate yourself and avoid activities.

What’s more, it's a vicious circle: leakages cause PSCs that make you worry more about the next leakage.

The key to minimising skin problems is to check your skin regularly and act at the first sign of anything unusual, such as itching, red, broken, or moist skin. When in doubt, always speak to a stoma care nurse or healthcare professional.

2. Get into an ostomy care routine
There's a strong consensus among healthcare professionals that people living with a stoma can take measures to help prevent problems that lead to leakage. Please be aware that this is just general guidance and shouldn't supersede any recommendations given to you by a healthcare professional:

  • Empty your pouch regularly, generally when it's around one-third full. An over-full or heavy pouch is more likely to cause a leak.
  • Remove your skin barrier with patience and care. Go slowly and gradually peel the barrier away from the skin. Start at the top and work downwards while gently pressing against the surrounding skin.
  • Assess your skin with every pouch change to be sure it is as healthy as the skin on the other side of your abdomen. Rinse the skin around your stoma with water and let it dry entirely before fitting a new stoma appliance.
  • Avoid any cleaning products that contain oils or lotions. They can reduce the effectiveness of adhesives. Make "simple is best" your mantra: warm water is sufficient to clean the skin around your stoma.
  • It is not advisable to use baby wipes, wet wipes, disinfectants or antiseptic fluids on the skin, as it may cause irritation.
  • Apply your skin barrier, then hold it in place for a few seconds. In doing so, it allows the barrier to conform to the abdominal contours which may help produce a good seal.
  • If the skin around your stoma is wet and weeping, you may want to use stoma powder (never talcum powder) to absorb the moisture. If it's causing discomfort, get in touch with a healthcare professional.
  • Address leakage quickly with your health care professional. Leakage will require you to change your barrier more frequently, which could lead to skin stripping which causes further damage to the skin.

3. Make sure your skin barrier fits well around the stoma

Remember that stoma output is corrosive. Any constant contact with your skin could cause damage. That is why a barrier that fits correctly is essential to protecting your peristomal skin. It ensures that all the output drains into your pouch and none seeps under the skin barrier.

The NovaLife TRE barrier is a product innovation designed to help ensure a good barrier seal while keeping your skin at peace. The NovaLife TRE barrier has been designed to protect the skin in three ways:

  • Adhesion: Designed to provide a secure, flexible seal to help protect the skin from stoma output while being easy to remove and gentle to the skin.
  • Absorption: Designed to absorb excess moisture to maintain the skins’ natural balance.
  • Buffering pH Balance: Designed to help protect the skin from stoma output, by maintaining the natural pH level of the skin.

4. Make sure your ostomy pouch is secure during physical activity or intimacy.

Having a stoma should not prevent you from exercising or being physical active. Talk to your doctor or stoma care nurse about contact sports or very heavy lifting; apart from that, you should be able to enjoy the same type of physical activities you enjoyed before your surgery.

Going through a life changing illness or injury can create a significant imbalance to your “normal” world. Who you are, what is important to you, and what to expect from life are very personal things. How much you express sexuality, celebrate, and enjoy its place in your life is different for each person. For that reason, there is no “normal” when it comes to sex. Check out more on the topic of intimacy here.

Having a secure pouching system and avoiding leaks is very important during physical activity or intimacy. This may simply mean taking a few necessary precautions, including:

  • Supporting your pouching system with a support garment.
  • Trying out different types of sportswear, such as running tights or Lycra® shorts to see what works best for you.
  • Emptying your pouch before starting the activity or becoming intimate.

5. Find the mix of products that's right for you

Like every person living with a stoma, you are unique.

Different solutions work for different people when it comes to keeping their peristomal skin healthy and minimizing leakage. Therefore, you should keep an eye out for the latest products and always feel free to speak to a healthcare professional about your options.

Above all, even in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, you must get help at the first sign of a problem. Feel free to head over to our products page to find out what new solutions are available.



  1. Richbourgh L, Thorpe JM, Rapp CG. Difficulties experienced by the ostomate after hospital discharge. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2007; 34(1):70-79
  2. Consumer Survey of Pruiritus, 2016. Hollister data on file (n=140)