Leakages are a problem for anyone especially new ostomates. One of the most important things a new ostomate can do is measure your stoma every time you change your appliance for the first few months. This is because right after your surgery, your stoma will be swollen and it takes a few months for it to return to it's normal size. If you don't measure it, you may be making the hole in your wafer too big and allowing stool to get onto the skin and under the wafer.
If you've measured your stoma and are sure the hole is the right size, then there are a number of other things to try out.
- Make sure the skin is DRY before putting on a new wafer. Moisture will undermine the seal and stop it from sticking properly;
- Try putting your hands over the wafer for a minute or so after sticking it on. The warmth of your hands will help it stick better;
- Less is more. The less things you use on your skin beforehand, ie skin prep, barrier wipes, etc, the less chance you have of something stopping your wafer from sticking. This may sound strange since all that stuff is supposed to help but, believe me, a lot of people have found that they get better wear time by not using anything under the wafer.;
- If you have any dips or folds in your skin or if your wafer has to go over a bit of your scar, try using Stoma Paste, Eakin Seals or Coloplast Strips to fill in the indents so your wafer has a flat surface to adhere to. However, do not use Stoma Paste on sore and irritated skin since it has alcohol in it and will sting! Eakin Seals and Coloplast Strips are much safer to use in this case since they do not contain any alcohol and have healing properties for the skin in them;
- If your stoma is flush to the skin (or even if it's not), try using an appliance with convexity. This can either be an insert that you use with your existing set up or you can get wafers with the convexity already in them. Convexity will help push the skin around the stoma in and so help the stoma protrude a bit more and hopefully make all the stool go into the bag and not under the wafer.
- Try wearing a belt especially made to go with your appliance. They may not be the most fashionable accessories in the world, but a lot of people swear by them.
- If you rinse your appliance, try to make sure that the water doesn't get up to the wafer part. If it does, the water can erode the wafer and limit wear time.
- Contrary to popular belief, Stomahesive paste is not a paste or adhesive as we understand it. It will not help your wafer stick any better. Instead it is more of a caulking agent designed to fill in any gaps between your stoma, your skin and the wafer.
- Remember, the average wear time for appliances is 3 - 4 days although some people are luckier and get a longer wear time than this. If you are trying to push your wear time too far, then leaks are going to happen! If you aren't getting as good a wear time as you think you should be, consider experimenting with different brands of appliances until you find one that suits you better. Most manufacturers are more than happy to send you free samples.
Your stoma should be a reddish, moist colour at all times. If your stoma turns a paler colour, then the probable cause is that the hole in your wafer is too tight for your stoma and blocking off it's blood supply. Measure your stoma and cut the hole accordingly. Your stoma should return to it's original colour pretty quickly after being given some room.
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