Leaks are definitely not a pleasant experience for anyone that has had one, it is the other end of the spectrum to blockages but after having both I don’t have one I prefer that’s for sure!
Leaks happen to all forms of stomas unfortunately I ran a quick poll in making ostomies cool and these were the results:
- Ileostomy – 170
- Colostomy – 56
- Urostomy – 6
- Ileostomy with a fistula – 3
I do sometimes wish more people with urostomies would join in with the polls, however Rachel from Rocking2Stomas did a poll on skin issues urostomates suffer with in the Urostomy Awareness group on Facebook and leaks are quite high up on the list of reasons for skin issues.
You can experience small leaks where the output doesn’t breach the appliance’s base plate and those that are essentially like or have the capability of being poopocolypse! They can often start with the “dreaded itch” as most people refer to it as, a sudden feeling of warmth on the skin – so many ostomates including myself get this feeling and it can sometimes be psychosomatic but until you put your hand there you just don’t know for certain!
If you are lucky and catch it whilst it hasn’t broken free or is just a small leak and not reached your clothes (it can happen!) you just need to change your appliance rather than the appliance AND your clothes. The worst I suffered was 3 nights in a row at work I had huge leaks and had to change all of my clothes. That I can tell you was not fun what so ever.
Your skin can become red and sore which is not often easy to deal with taking the appliance on and off. Barrier wipes/sprays/rings and powder can help provide some relief to sore skin. My stoma nurse said there is always a reason for a leak; sometimes you just need to think what it could be for instance:
- the hole not cut to size correctly
- stoma size changing
- the base plate not stuck down correctly
- a dip in the skin
- the stoma retracting
- the stoma spout dropping
There are a few simple things that could help prevent leaks:
- sizing your stoma regularly
- trying a new appliance
- trying a new skincare routine – ie paste to fill in dips or creases
- speaking to your stoma nurse
Hopefully leaks either don’t happen for you or are incredibly rare!