Troubleshooting Site Irritation and Tube Leakage

Troubleshooting site irritation and tube leakage on a feeding tube

Gina Salvatori, registered dietitian with CHC Solutions, Inc., provides advice on troubleshooting site irritation and tube leakage.

Salvatori said, “Having a feeding tube can be difficult to navigate on the best days, and if you or a loved one is experiencing tube site irritation or leakage, it can be painful and challenging. Learn what you can do to help ease and prevent issues.”

Signs of a Problem

There are several signs that there may be a problem with your tube site:

  • Irritated skin or a rash around the tube site
  • A foul odor
  • Leaking from or around your tube
  • Granulation tissue – while granulation tissue does not always indicate a larger issue, it can cause discomfort and bleeding

Tube Leakage is Sometimes Normal

It is normal to have a small amount of leakage. However, if you are having a significant amount of leakage from the tube, it may indicate that your button and its anti-reflux valve are not working properly. If you are having leakage around the tube site, you may be losing nutrients and are at risk for skin irritation from stomach acid coming into contact with your skin.

Causes of Leakage

There are a few typical causes of leakage from around the tube:

  • Wrong sized button
  • Improperly inflated balloon
  • Stretched-out tube
  • Dysmotility

There are steps you can take at home to attempt to fix a leaky tube including checking to make sure you have the correct size g-tube and that the balloon is inflated properly. If necessary, you can vent your g-tube to prevent excess pressure.

Cleaning Skin Exposed to Stomach Contents

You should clean skin that is irritated and skin that was exposed to stomach contents. Wash the area with warm water and mild soap being sure to pat the area completely dry.

You should also call and inform your medical provider and follow up with them about the best next steps. They may want to see you or your loved one to assess the tube site and may recommend a specific type of barrier cream. In cases of severe skin breakdown, you may be referred to a wound care nurse for additional care.

Site Infections

Although it does not occur often, it is possible that the stoma site will become infected.

There are several signs that can indicate that your tube site may be infected:

  • Having a red stoma
  • Cellulitis
  • Foul smell
  • Fever
  • Pain or sensitivity when touching the feeding tube

It is important to call your medical provider as soon as you suspect an infection at your tube site.

To learn more about tube feeding, visit our blog on a tube-feeding guide to educate parents at

*Disclaimer: Any health and wellness content presented is for general informational purposes only. Such content is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.