How to Care for Your Ostomy Stoma

Learn how to care for your ostomy stoma to stay healthy and comfortable.

How to care for your ostomy stoma

If you just had surgery, you have chemicals temporarily in your body that will cause you to itch, especially skin covered by a barrier. Although there are situations where one has an allergic reaction to a product, most of the time it is our own bodies causing the problem. You will probably notice sensitivity to certain products at various times, this is normal.

It is very rare to have a reaction to your ostomy products as they are constantly tested and evaluated for skin friendliness. If you have suffered from a skin reaction the first thing you should do is check that you have not used something different in your normal routine i.e. change of soap or barrier wipe. If there is no difference in your normal procedure, you may have to change your product and see if the problem goes away.

Testing for skin allergies

Some ostomates can use anything on the skin and get away with it. Others have to search for just the right combination of products for satisfactory use. If you are experimenting on your own, consider the following information for using different products. Patch testing is recommended before proceeding to use any new product. The skin on the inner surface of the arm or leg or the opposite side of the abdominal area from the stoma are good areas to use for a simple test. Cut a piece of the washer, tape, disc, etc., and affix it to the chosen area. Secure with a strip of Micropore tape and leave it for 48 to 72 hours. Any burning sensation or itching during the testing time could signify sensitivity to the material being used and therefore, should be removed immediately, washed and dried well. After 48 to 72 hours, remove the patch and if there is no redness or irritation, it is safe to assume that the product can be used.

Stoma skin care

A good time to check your stoma and the skin around it is when you change your pouch. The stoma is always pink or red and moist, looking wet. Because your stoma has many small blood vessels, it may bleed when it is cleaned and wiped. You should not worry about a little bleeding unless the bleeding does not stop.

Gently remove the ostomy pouch. Clean the skin under the pouch with water. Make sure the skin is dry, today’s modern barriers will not stick to moist skin, try an ordinary hair dryer set to blow cold. Cold air should dry the skin and close the pores leaving you ready to apply the skin barrier. Sprinkle ostomy protective powder on the skin and then blot it off. If your skin is moist due to an irritation, ostomy powders like Hollihesive or granulated Stomahesive powder Stomahesive are made to dry the skin so the skin barrier will stick. Stomahesive Paste or Powder may be used to fill the crevices around the stoma to give added protection. Reattach or replace the pouching system.

Treating skin irritation

The stoma is normally pink to red. Call your doctor if your stoma:

• Develops a pale color.
• Becomes dusky or blue.
• Swells.
• Bleeds.

If there are red dots on your skin, you may have a fungus infection usually Monilia or yeast infection, similar to diaper rash. We all get these. Your doctor or pharmacist can recommend a micro-granulated anti-fungal powder and show you how to use it. This will usually clear up the infection.

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