With the end of June hot on our heels, we start looking towards fireworks for the Fourth of July, mid-day swimming, BBQs with friends and family, and even more fun in the sun. Making sure we take a few precautions in mind, there is no reason not to enjoy these great outdoor activities this summer with your Ostomy.
Do not expect to have the same wear time on your pouches in the middle of summer as you normally do the rest of the year. Your flanges and barriers may melt faster in the heat than otherwise which requires that you change out your appliances more frequently. If you find that your wear times are greatly reduced beyond normal, then you might need to look into a different skin barrier. With the heat comes skin irritation often times due to the plastic pouches trapping the moisture from our perspiration between the device and our skin. The constant rubbing against the skin leads to the minor redness and irritation. A pouch cover can greatly reduce the irritation as well as using powders to absorb perspiration and reduce friction on our skin.
If you are very active and do not feel comfortable with your two-piece system while enjoying your sports or hobbies, look for ways to secure your pouch to prevent it from popping off it's barrier at an inopportune moment. Solutions as simple as using 2"-3" tape to secure the pouch to your abdomen work great for keeping your pouch in place. If adhesive sensitivity concerns are present, using an abdominal binder to hold your pouch in place can give you peace of mind as well. If you are swimming, remember to use waterproof tapes such as 3M Blenderm or MegaZinc Pink for extra security in the pool.
Another common problem for ostomates in the summer is the potential for developing a Monilia rash (yeast infection), characterized by a fine bumpy red rash usually along the edges of the redness. This red raised itchy rash, generally on the peristomal skin, is uncomfortable and often times prevents pouches and devices from adhering to the skin. Monilia rash must be treated with an antifungal powder. The antifungal powder can be used with other barrier powders or alone. If the rash continues, contact your physician for more specific care.
As with any activities outdoors in the summer, making sure you are properly hydrated is key. Remember to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after you spend time outdoors. The general guideline is "half of your body weight in ounces of water per day". For example, a 200lb person should drink at least 100 ounces of water, or 12.5 8oz glasses of water, per day. As an ostomate, you should likely drink one to two extra glasses of water in addition to that standard. Drinking water, non-caffeine herbal tea, and natural fruit juices all count towards your required amount of fluid intake for the day. I personally find the easiest way to track my water consumption is to take a large water bottle and note how many of these I have to drink rather than having to remember how many of the smaller 8oz glasses I have had all day.
So drink your water, prep your ostomy appliances, protect your skin with sunscreen, and enjoy the outdoor activities this summer!