Download our leaflet
Common stoma problems (766 KB)
There are common stoma problems that can arise when you have a stoma bag but if you are informed and prepared, complications can be countered or even prevented by following our helpful stoma advice.
A skin protection film can be used on sore skin before applying your stoma pouch and help the appliance adhere.
For very sore skin a ‘skin blanket’ can be applied onto the skin before putting on a new appliance which also acts as a skin barrier between the skin and the adhesive.
Large areas of skin that are red, sore, and weeping (always wet) may prevent you from getting a good seal around your stoma. It is therefore important to treat minor irritations before they worsen.
If you have any irritation or sore skin that does not clear up after a few days, contact your stoma care nurse.
You may notice slight bleeding from the surface of your stoma. This is normal and can be caused by cleaning your stoma too harshly. It is also normal for some stomas to bleed when you change your pouch.
Take care when changing your pouch and cleaning the area. However, if the bleeding persists or you have any other concerns then you should contact your stoma care nurse for advice.
Bleeding can also be caused by friction from an ill-fitting appliance. To prevent this from occurring, regularly check that the site of the hole on the base plate or flange is correct. Your stoma nurse can assist with this. If there is blood in the contents of the pouch, seek medical advice.
The presence of excessive flatus (wind) can dislodge your pouch and cause leakage.
Different types of food and drink consumed could cause excessive wind, and will affect different people in different ways. It is helpful to keep a diary of your intake as this will allow you to see if there is a particular food or drink that is causing the problem.
Our stoma dietary advice contains further advice to ensure that you are eating a diet suitable for your needs. We also have a range of recipes for stoma patients if you need some culinary inspiration.
Remember that most people find that foods which have previously caused them upset and excessive wind will still generally have the same effect.
To aid reduction in excessive stoma wind:
Excessive wind can also cause ‘stoma ballooning’, where the pouch inflates. To avoid this, you can either change to a pouch with a double filter or obtain extra filters from Fittleworth free of charge.
If you notice any unpleasant odours from your pouch, it may be that you have developed a leak – you should check that the pouch is fitted correctly to avoid this. Remember that some foods will also increase odour, particularly if eaten in large quantities – these include:
There are many different odourisers available in the form of sprays or drops which are inserted into your pouch, all of which are available on prescription through Fittleworth.
‘Pancaking’ is caused by firmer stools sticking to the stoma and not moving down into the pouch correctly. It can cause problems often leading to leakage and sore skin.
If your stoma bag keeps pancaking, then below are ways that will help prevent pancaking:
There are specific accessories and products available on prescription which can help to prevent and stop stoma pancaking. For more information, please contact your stoma care nurse or speak to one of Fittleworth’s Customer Service team.
Possible causes of diarrhoea include certain foods such as:
Other factors could include excessive alcohol consumption, stress or an underlying medical condition. Some types of medication and food may alter the colour and consistency of your output.
Eating marshmallows, unripe bananas or smooth peanut butter may help to solidify the contents. It is also important to keep well-hydrated by increasing your fluid and salt intake.
‘Discharge Solidifying Agents’ are available on prescription which can be placed in a pouch to solidify the contents.
Speak to one of our Customer Service team for products available, or contact your stoma care nurse for advice.
If you have an ileostomy, generally your output will normally look loose and may resemble diarrhoea – this is nothing to worry about. If, however, you feel unwell, the output is watery and your pouch needs emptying more than 4 to 6 times a day and this continues for more than 24 hours it is advisable to seek medical help.
For more information, please see our ileostomy diet advice page, or one of our advice leaflets obtained through our Customer Service team, or contact your stoma care nurse.
Ensure that your appliance does not become too full as this can pull the pouch down and may pull it off. To avoid this, you should change or empty your pouch when the contents reach the half-way mark.
If your stoma changes colour, size or shape you should contact your stoma care nurse.
If your stoma stops working and you have abdominal pain/discomfort you may need medical assistance. Never stop taking any medication without consulting your GP.
Our advice page on exercising with a stoma is ideal for those who are looking to undertake physical activity and will provide guidance on the essential considerations required to exercise with peace of mind.
Our Simple Steps programme also contains core exercises for ostomy patients and takes new ostomates from surgery preparation through to recovery post-operation.
Common stoma problems (766 KB)