How to Care for your Skin Around your Stoma

Having an ostomy means that you must monitor and care for the area around your stoma.  It’s basically a circle, and the skin that’s there goes directly around the stoma.  Sometimes, there are skin irritants that happen every single day, and the stomal skin is almost in constant contact with the adhesives from the ostomy wafer and flange, not to mention that at some point he stomal skin will be in contact with the output of the stoma.

This is a problem because the potential for is irritation is oftentimes something that happens a lot when you’re not doing this correctly, and it’s not like you can stop wearing this either.  You want to make sure that you take care of this area, for your own personal comfort, and for your own happiness and wellness too. In this, we’ll highlight how to effectively take care of your stoma pouch, to make sure that you have the best and healthiest skin possible.

First, check your ostomy system twice daily., once at least.  You’ll want to visibly check, and you should make sure that you look at the wafer and flange, and make sure that it looks correct. If you notice anything wrong, take it off, and make sure the flange isn’t leaking behind the wafer, since small leaks become big problems, and that can destroy your skin, so make sure that you deal with this immediately.

Next, you’ve got to make the most out of your pouch changes. Most will wear them all the time, but the thing is, you should make sure that you watch the changes of your skin during this time. When you change the ostomy pouch, you’ll notice that the old adhesive can be left behind.  That will damage your skin, so make sure that you do take some time to totally make sure that you have clean skin, and make sure nothing is left behind. You should make sure to get skin cleansing wipes too, and clean it all around there, in order to make sure that the wafer stays in place, and you’ll want to go for an environment that’s clean and dry, since that’ll help.

Stoma powder is something that you should also make sure that you use. If the skin around this does become irritated, weepy, or red, this powder helps the skin heal. If your skin doesn’t, or it starts to get worse, you should always contact your professionally.  You should make sure that you never put this on damaged skin, and always make sure that you listen to your body.

To begin, you apply the stoma powder to dry and clean skin. Never use harsh soaps, or soaps with perfumes. Apply a lighter dusting of this powder o the irritated skin or the redden skin. Brush off the excess powder with a cloth that’s soft and clean.  Dab a skin prep over this, and seal the powder into place.

Don’t use baby powder when you’re using this, since it’s not the same as stoma powder. Baby powder ruins your pouch adhesion, and it doesn’t absorb moisture as well. If you notice no improvement, talk to your healthcare provider, and make sure you keep in the know on this too.

Taking care of your ostomy pouch also involves the area too. It’s very important to make sure that you take some time to fully learn about this.  Doing this right will help save your skin from further irritation, and make you feel better as well.

The Different Kinds of Ostomy Barriers

Ostomy barriers come in different types of shapes and sizes. Luckily, we have the lowdown on each of the different barriers, what they mean for you, and the benefits of such as well.

First, you’ve got the ostomy wafer or the ostomy barrier.  These are pretty much the appliances that go around the skin with a hole around your stoma. The ostomy barrier is often called either a flange, wafer, or an appliance. This will stick to the skin around the stoma with an adhesive, and the skin around that will go around and the barrier goes around and protects the kin from the stomal output. The barrier allows for you to connect the pouches to the body, and if you use a two piece ostomy system, this is wo different things. Usually, the wafer and pouch are each their own. Not all of these ostomy barriers fit all the pouches, so you should make sure that you get the same brand of pouches and barriers, since that’ll help with connection.

There are also pre-cut barriers, and this is the most common for most of those who need a stoma pouch. They’re uniform, and circular in shape. The biggest benefit to this, is that you don’t have to cut them, just keep the box open, and of course they’re ready to go. If your stoma fits this size, this will help save you so much time, since you don’t have to manually cut the barrier each time.  If it isn’t round or the standard size, this isn’t the ideal choice, since it can cause leaks. When you first get an ostomy, you’ll probably want to avoid this, since the stoma is still changing, and it might be swelled up, which affects the state of the pouch as well.

Next, we’ve got the cut-to-fit ones, and these are of varying sizes that are printed directly, so you can cut the opening in order to fit the stoma size and the shape of it too. The printed lines are essentially a guide, and you’re not limited to pre-cut circles, but you can make any shape that fits to your stoma, so if you have an abnormal stoma, this is a good thing to have. This is good for those in-between sizes too.

The best way to handle these, is to cut those for a week or day ahead of time, so you’re not fumbling about when cutting at home.  You should also do this before you travel too.

Then you have the moldable ones, which is basically a step up from the last one, and this is made of a mold that’s safe for the stoma, and it goes right up against there without damage to the stoma itself, or the surrounding skin. The material is flexible, and it can be molded and shaped to fit around the stoma in a snug manner. This also doesn’t require scissors, but instead you can use the fingers to roll and shape the wafer around the stoma. The process of molding this around is usually called “turtle necking” since it makes a conical shape like a turtleneck, and this will help prevent leaks, increasing the comfort around the area as well.

These wafers are usually meant to fit snugly against the skin without worrying about the skin implications, so for those with sensitive skin, this is the best option.

There’s a lot of options for this in these different stoma pouches, but if you do take some time to learn about the different barriers, you can choose what’s right for you when you begin to learn to use your pouches as well.

When to Change Your Pouching System

A lot of the time, people are unsure when they should be changing their pouching system for their ostomy. It’s a very common question to see when ostomies are concerned, and it’s one that should be taken seriously considering you don’t want the skin around your stoma to become infected or damaged.

The first thing to remember is that changing your pouching system is dependent on your situation, so there’s no real answer that fits everyone’s question. The best thing you can do is choose a day and time that fits your schedule best, and try to stick to that schedule. From there, it’s best to monitor when your stoma isn’t producing much urine or stool, as this will make cleanup and the changing process much simpler. Oftentimes, this means in the morning before you drink or eat anything. Other times, this may be right after you bathe. No matter what you opt for, try to keep consistent with what you choose.

Additionally, it’s often asked how exactly you should be removing your pouching system during the changing process. Ostomy supplies are easier to remove than you would imagine, though it takes practice at first. The first thing to remember is to go slow and don’t feel rushed. You don’t want to damage your skin in the process.

Basically, you should be lifting the edge of your pouching system with one hand and pressing down on your skin near the sticky barrier with your other hand. Starting from the bottom and working up or vice versa seems to work best for a lot of people. At times, warm water can help the adhesive part to come off of your skin much easier, or you can opt for an adhesive remover that is specifically designed to do this.

Keep in mind that your skin may look darker or pinker than your normal skin color right after you remove the ostomy supplies, but the color should fade within a few minutes. If this doesn’t go away, consider letting your health care professional know in order to avoid any future issues with the ostomy.

Overall, you should be monitoring your own needs more than anything else. If something hurts when you’re changing your pouching system, take note. If you’re not changing your system often enough, make the time to do it. Your health matters more than anything else, so don’t skip out on doing this the right way the first time.

Choosing the Right Supplies for Your Ostomy

Having an ostomy can be quite a significant change to your life, but the important thing to remember is that it’s an option for you and your health needs, and the ostomy supplies that exist are top notch for your health and safety. Medical advances have made it extremely easy to care for your individual needs, and ostomies are no different.

So, where do we start? Perhaps it’s best to talk a little about pouching systems in order to get a better idea of what type of ostomies there are and what they mean. To begin, pouching systems are just the products you use to collect stool and urine. Within those pouching systems, you should have a skin barrier used to adhere to your skin and protect your skin from urine or stool. The bag just happens to hold those products.

So what types of ostomies are there? Basically, there are three: colostomies for stool drainage from the large bowel, urostomies for drainage of urine, and ileostomies for drainage of stool from the small bowel. Pretty simple, right?

When it comes to choosing your skin barrier, it’s important to remember that the barrier itself is to seal and protect the skin around the stoma, as your skin shouldn’t be in pain or infected by any means. In fact, your skin surrounding the stoma should be the same as your skin elsewhere: healthy and clean.

So when it comes to choosing the right ostomy supplies, skin barriers can be tricky to navigate at first. There are typically standard wear barriers, which are used for semi-formed or formed stools. An extended wear barrier is used for urine or loose/liquid stool (these barriers don’t break down like a standard wear barrier when it comes into contact with liquids).

Additionally, some barriers may have added ingredients that can be used when the skin is sensitive surrounding the stoma. It’s just important to remember certain products that your insurance cover when choosing ostomy pouching systems, so don’t get carried away in choosing anything and everything if it’s not covered by your insurance, or expect to pay a lot more than you expected up front.

All in all, caring for your ostomy needs is easier than you would imagine, so long as you know what you’re doing and are careful to choose the right products. Talk with your nurse or doctor if you’re unsure where to go next, as there are a lot of things in the world of ostomy that could be confusing.