How to Prevent Your Stoma Pouch from Leaking

Stoma output can leak from your pouching system for a variety of reasons. Learn how to prevent ostomy bag leakage problems and skin irritation around the stoma.


Find out how to solve ostomy pouch leakage problems.

If your stoma appliance is securely in place and working correctly, you’ll be less likely to experience leaks. Below are some tips for avoiding ostomy pouch leakage:

Take good care of your peristomal skin. If the skin around your stoma gets irritated or damaged this can be hard to treat, since you need to place your skin barrier over that area. Here are some suggestions for keeping your peristomal skin healthy:

Ensure that your ostomy skin barrier fits well. If your skin barrier fits properly around your stoma, your ostomy output will flow into your pouch, limiting the risk of leakage onto your skin. Here are some suggestions to help obtain optimal fit:

  • Use a stoma measuring guide to measure your stoma before you apply a new skin barrier. This is particularly important in the early days and weeks after your surgery, or if you start to experience damage to your peristomal skin. Stoma measuring guides are available in cut-to-fit barrier product boxes, and are also available through your stoma care nurse.
  • The skin barrier should fit where your skin and stoma meet. Make sure that no skin is showing between the barrier and your stoma.
  • Consider using a skin protector wipe that is designed to protect the skin from the damaging effects of stoma output and pouch adhesives from repeated barrier removals.

Change your stoma pouch regularly. If you change your ostomy bag on a regular schedule, it will be less likely to leak. A pouch that gets too full and heavy can put strain on your skin barrier adhesive, which may result in leakage. Pouching system wear time (i.e., how long you can wear your skin barrier before it fails) is based on your unique circumstances, so consult with your stoma care nurse to determine the right frequency.

Keep your ostomy pouch secure during physical activity. If you are participating in sports or other forms of exercise (including sexual activity), you can wear certain clothing or accessories that will help keep your pouch in place and help ease your concerns. Here are a few tips:

  • Be sure to empty your stoma pouch before engaging in activity
  • Consider wearing support garments for people with ostomies, such as ostomy wraps, ostomy swimwear, and ostomy underwear
  • Try clothing specifically designed for sports, such as running tights or shorts with elasticity
  • If your ostomy pouch has belt tabs, you can wear an ostomy belt to hold the pouch more securely against your body

Remove your ostomy skin barrier very carefully. Taking it off incorrectly or too quickly could cause skin stripping, which could lead to irritation, pain, and your ostomy bag leaking. Here are some tips:

  • Peel the skin barrier off very gently; start at the top and work down, while pressing down on the surrounding skin
  • Take your time and don’t rush
  • You may benefit from the use of an adhesive removal wipe or spray. Ask your stoma nurse if this may help with pouch removal.

Find the right ostomy products. Many ostomy appliances and accessories are designed to help prevent leakage. Every stoma is unique, so consult with your stoma nurse to find the best products for you. It may take some trial and error. Here are some tips:

What to do if your ostomy bag keeps leaking
These tips can help you prevent ostomy pouch leakage problems, however, if you continue to experience leaks it’s important to pinpoint the source. Ask your stoma care nurse for help.