Caring for the Skin Around Your Stoma:
Having an ostomy means caring for and monitoring the skin around your stoma. Imagine the circle of skin that goes directly around your stoma and think about the constant irritation that skin deals with every day. Your stomal skin is in almost constant contact with adhesives from your ostomy flange/wafer. Not to mention that at some point your stomal skin will be in contact with stomal output. This is a problem because the potential for irritation is constant and it isn't like you can just stop wearing an ostomy pouching system! The stomal skin comes into contact with so much irritation that some people think red and broken skin around their stoma is normal. It is not normal. Your stomal skin should be as healthy as the rest of your skin. You can't ignore skin irritation and you can't just accept it either. You have to try and heal it or better yet, you can work to prevent irritation from starting.
Visually Check Your Ostomy System Every Day:
Caring for your stoma and stomal skin means you will need to visually inspect the skin during every ostomy pouch change. Your ostomy pouch system should not be worn for more than 3 to 5 days. Each day you should examine your ostomy flange and wafer. Visually check and see if it looks like it should. Is it creased or wrinkled? Do you see evidence of stomal output? Are there any small leaks? Does your stomal skin feel itchy? Do you see any redness? If anything looks wrong, you need to take your ostomy system off and make sure your flange isn't leaking behind your wafer. Small leaks can cause big skin problems because stomal output can wreak havoc on your skin. Leaks need to be dealt with right away.
Making the Most Out of Ostomy Pouch Changes:
Wearing an ostomy pouch is not optional. Most ostomates wear an ostomy pouch all the time, day and night. The time to help your skin is during pouch changes. By paying attention to the health of your skin during your ostomy pouch change you can help your skin heal and you can help to keep your skin protected. Keeping your skin dry and clean is a great first step. When you change your ostomy pouch your skin can have remnants of the old adhesive that was left behind from your ostomy baseplate. Damaged skin is not your new normal. Coloplast has a new product that I think will be helpful to keep your stomal skin healthy. Brava skin cleansing wipes can be used to clean up leftover adhesive and to remove any remaining stomal output. Most cleansing wipes are not intended to be used with an ostomy. They have ingredients that interfere with adhesion. Brava skin cleanings wipes are designed to be used with an ostomy. These wipes are gentle on your skin because of a special provitamin B5 formula so they shouldn't increase irritation. Brava wipes leave your skin clean and free of residue. Clean and dry skin is the best way to make sure your ostomy wafer stays firmly in place. One way to help maintain a clean and dry environment for your stomal skin is to use stoma powder.
How to Use Stoma Powder:
If the skin around your stoma becomes red, irritated, or weepy, stoma powder can help your skin heal. If your skin does not heal or starts to get worse call your medical provider and have them examine the skin around your stoma to make sure there isn't a more serious issue. If your skin is damaged, it is trying to tell you that it needs help. Listen to your body and don't be scared to ask your doctor or your ostomy nurse questions.
Some tips for treating redness and irritated skin with Stoma Powder:
- Apply stoma powder to clean dry skin. Do not use harsh soaps or products with perfumes.
- Apply a light dusting of the powder to red and irritated skin. Gently brush off excess powder with a soft clean cloth.
- Gently dab a skin prep OVER the powdered area, this seals the powder in place and promotes healing.
- Baby powder is not the same thing as Stoma Powder. Baby powder can interfere with pouch adhesion and it will not absorb moisture as well as stoma powder.
- If there is no improvement, contact your WOC nurse he or she can help you troubleshoot the irritation and hopefully find another solution.
- Never give up! You deserve healthy happy skin!
Ostomy Supply Terms:
Ostomy Flange - An ostomy flange is the plastic or adhesive area surrounding the open circle of your ostomy wafer. The ostomy flange and wafer are the part of your two-piece ostomy system that connects directly to your body. This wafer/flange system is also called a baseplate. The ostomy flange and wafer is placed around your stoma. The ostomy pouch connects to the other part of your two-piece ostomy system and collects your stomal output. The ostomy wafer can also be permanently attached to your ostomy pouch and that is called a one piece ostomy system.
Ostomy Pouch - An ostomy pouch connects to an ostomy wafer and together they form an ostomy system. The ostomy pouch is worn because it collects stomal output. The ostomy pouch is available in drainable and closed. A drainable ostomy pouch can be emptied and cleaned and then reattached to the ostomy wafer to be used again. A closed ostomy pouch is used once and then discarded, it has no opening at the end so it can not be cleaned and resused. An ostomy pouch is also called an ostomy bag.
Stoma Powder - A special powder that helps to heal stomal skin and works to absorb moisture.Can be applied around the stoma in a light layer to help irritated or inflamed skin. Stoma powder is not interchangeable with other kinds of body powder.
Skin Prep - Skin prep is a liquid that is available in individually packaged wipes or in a spray bottle that helps "prep" or prepare the skin to better accept adhesives. Skin prep is usually applied around the stoma in order to form a layer between the adhesives and the skin. This protects the skin from the adhesives and output which helps reduce contact irritation. If you are using stoma powder to reduce redness you need to apply the stoma powder first and then dab skin prep over the freshly powdered skin.