Preventing Sore Skin And Leaks With A Stoma

Anita March 1

I have had my stoma, Sally, for nearly four years now and although I feel that I am a 'pro’, sometimes my smug self is reminded that leaks can happen to anyone, no matter how many years you have been living with your stoma.

Leaks always seem to happen in the most inconvenient places and often catch us off guard. There isn't a lot we can do, but we can attempt to prepare ourselves so we can try to cope with it, as much as we can.

When I change my bag, I make sure that my skin is clean. I use wipes that I receive from my healthcare company for free. I wipe the skin around the stoma area, without directly touching the stoma. The skin around here is very sensitive, and it doesn't take much to make the stoma bleed. A few times a week, I will clean around the stoma area with some cotton wool and hot water.

I gently pat the area until it’s dry. Now is the time to apply your skin barrier if you use one. There are various types of ‘barrier’ protection including creams, sprays and wipes. If you have a urostomy, these are applied to keep the urine directly off the skin, as urine can burn the skin. It also protects your skin from the adhesives on the back of the stoma bags.

I have used both wipes and spray. To be honest, I think, I prefer the wipes as they seem to take less time to dry. They are discreet and small too!

Everyone has their own preference with regards to brands. If you want to try something new then please do get in touch with one of SecuriCare's customer service representatives, I am sure they would love to send some free samples for you to try at home (they’re friendly and helpful too).

If you find that your bag is constantly leaking it may be time to speak to your Stoma Care Nurse.

It may be that you are wearing a bag that doesn’t necessarily fit your needs. Our bodies can change, so sometimes that one bag that worked really well for you in the beginning may not work as well, that situation may change.

I also have a 'go to’ bag in my car. This contains everything that I might need if a blasted leak happens when I’m out and about. In my ‘go to’ bag I keep spare stoma bags, night bags (just in case I have to rush away at a minutes notice or get stuck in traffic on the M25!), plus a spare change of clothes. I also have an incontinence sheet, just incase I have a leak and end up with pee all over my car seat - I can use this until I am able to sort the car out. I also keep a snack or two to hand, nobody wants to get stuck without something to nibble on!

Even with all the precautions, leaks are bound to happen at times.

Yes, they are a pain in the butt and a mild annoyance, I’m just thankful that I’m alive to have these leaks!

Ensuring your stoma, and surrounding areas, are kept clean means that you are less likely to pick up an infection. If you do start to get sore skin or see crystals in your urine, please seek advice from a healthcare professional straight away.

Leaving it alone won't address the problem and you really do need to keep the skin around your stoma healthy and well.

I have suffered with granulation and crystallisation of urine around my stoma. One tip my Stoma Care Nurse gave me was that it couldn't just be wiped off. She advised me to dilute 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water, and gently soak and wipe the affected area. It worked a treat for me. I am not a Stoma Care Nurse so can't really advise you what to do, my best advice would be to contact your Stoma Care Nurse.

“Yes, they are a pain in the butt and a mild annoyance, I’m just thankful that I’m alive to have these leaks!” - @big_british

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If you are struggling with leaks or sore skin around your stoma, remember that S.T.A.R.S. (SecuriCare Telephone Advice and Response Service) is here for you. Call 0808 301 2414 today and you could be speaking with a Stoma Care Nurse tomorrow.

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by Anita Brown

Anita Brown

About the author

Hi I’m Anita Brown. Diagnosed with terminal small cell bladder cancer in April 2016. I've had palliative chemo and radiotherapy, and a radical cystectomy and urostomy in August 2017.

I've had problems with my bladder all my life, from incontinence, to kidney and bladder stones, and now cancer. I would like to share some of my experiences - follow me on Twitter.