Ostomy pouch leakages can be classified in 2 ways, a leak within the pouching system and a leak outside the pouching system. Both leaks are concerning and should be addressed. A leak within the pouching system can cause skin irritation and lead to a leak outside the pouching system.
This type of leak is observed when you remove your pouching system and assess the back of the flange, the part that adheres to your skin. Stool or urine (depending on the type of stoma you have) is seen on the back of the flange. This is considered a leak within the flange. Other signs are your skin is denuded or raw and painful. There is no stool or urine outside the flange.
Stool or urine (depending on the type of stoma) is seen outside the flange and or on your clothing. You may experience denuded or raw skin as well.
Ostomy pouches leak for many reasons. The most common cause is a change in your stoma or abdominal contours. Initially, post-surgery, your stoma and abdomen change in size. Reassessment and adjustment in ostomy products may be required. Other factors such as diet, weight gain, weight loss, the development of a parastomal hernia, or pregnancy require a reassessment of your ostomy products to prevent leakages.
When experiencing a pouch leak, whether within or outside the flange, the first step is to address the cause. The cause may be difficult to determine. The occasional leak could be due to diet, activity, or faulty products. If your skin is denuded or raw and painful, a procedure called "crusting" will assist in treating the skin. Consider this a peristomal skin Band-Aid. If the leak occurs more than once a week, an appointment with your ostomy nurse is recommended.