Healing skin after leakage

Leakage happens from time to time, like forgetting where you put your keys, or putting your shirt on backwards. It should not happen regularly. If leakage is a regular occurrence, you may need to review your pouching system with your Nurse Specialized in Wound, Ostomy & Continence (NSWOC) or WOC nurse.

Leakage can irritate skin. It can feel like a burn and it can itch.


The moisture of urine, and the waste products that make it urine, can cause irritation of the skin. The skin around the stoma may turn whitish grey.


The moisture content of the stool on the skin can cause irritation. The higher up in the bowel the stoma is located, the more moisture there will be in the stool.


The moisture content of the stool is quite high, and this can damage the skin. Ileostomy output also contains digestive enzymes, chemicals our body makes to help breakdown food. These enzymes also work on the skin, and cause damage.

Damaged skin can be red, itchy or burning, and sometimes is weepy or oozing. This weepiness is moisture coming to the surface of the skin to help heal the damaged areas. If your skin was uncovered, this would make a scab.

Your pouching system sits on top of this damaged area. The moisture your body is sending to heal this area will break down your seal more quickly. This leads to leakage on tissue that is trying to heal.

Damaged skin will start to heal as soon as the cause (leakage) is removed. To help the skin heal and become dry again, you will need to change your pouch more often until your skin is healed.

Creating a dry surface over damaged skin

Some people use crusting to absorb some of the extra moisture. Rings are also helpful for absorbing some of the extra moisture coming from your skin as it heals.

Change before the next leak happens

Changing your pouch before stool or urine gets on your skin again is the most important factor in helping skin heal. Sometimes this means changing daily or every second day until your skin is healthy. Once the skin around your stoma is healing and dry, you can return to your regular change schedule.


Sometimes the skin tries to protect itself by growing extra tissue. This tissue is moist, and sometimes bleeds. These are called granulomas. They sometimes require treatment by a nurse, and a plan to stop the leakage that causes the granulomas to form.

More causes of irritation

There can be other causes of irritation around the stoma aside from leakage. If your irritation lasts longer than two changes or seems to be getting worse, see your NSWOC or WOC nurse.