Stoma Skin Care is Key
Health experts say that monitoring and protecting the stoma and the skin around it are the foundation of a good ostomy care routine. However, studies have shown that nearly half of people with a peristomal skin condition did not realize they have a problem. Here’s a look at what a healthy stoma and peristomal skin should be like, and ways to help keep them clean and problem-free.Peristomal Skin
Because your stoma has no nerve endings, you may not feel pain if it gets bumped, scratched or squeezed. However, skin around the stoma is full of nerve receptors that are sensitive to things that cause pain, including irritation and infection.
Peristomal skin can be exposed to stool or urine; so during every pouch change, it is important to inspect the skin under the wafer for signs of leakage, including rash, bumps, broken skin, discoloration or inflammation. If you spot any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about using barrier seals, paste or other ostomy accessory products that deter leaks and leave your skin dry and healthy.
In addition to leakage, peristomal skin can be very sensitive to wafer or tape adhesives, so a gentle touch is needed when removing the pouch:
- Remove the pouch wafer very slowly
- Push down on the skin to release it from the adhesive
- Remove the pouch in the same direction of any hair growth
With the pouch removed, adhesive remover wipes can be used to eliminate leftover residue. Next, clean the peristomal skin gently but thoroughly with special cleansing wipes or mild, perfume-free soap and water. Pat the area dry and let the skin breathe for a few moments before applying the next pouch.
Stoma Skin Care
It is important to maintain good hygiene with the stoma itself.
Here are some signs of a healthy stoma:
- Red or pink in color
- Moist or wet appearance
- No gap between base of the stoma and the skin
- Free of small bumps or ulcers (stomatitis)
When changing pouches, you can gently clean off any stool, urine or mucus left on the stoma with toilet tissue. Make sure to inspect your stoma – it has many small blood vessels and can start bleeding if it is wiped too roughly. Minor bleeding is normal, but you should contact your doctor or health care worker if the bleeding does not stop.
Here are a few more tips for good stoma health:
- Avoid very tight clothing that causes the pouch to rub against the stoma
- Don’t wear rigid objects, like belt buckles, right on top of the stoma
- Talk to your doctor about wearing a stoma guard or support belt if you play contact sport
Showering and Bathing
You can shower with or without a pouch. The skin around your stoma may be sensitive to a hard water stream, so avoid direct spray or adjust the showerhead pressure. You can bathe without a pouch, but if you have an ileostomy or urostomy, you may want to keep it on if you plan on being in the water for a long time. You can also feel free to use the hot tub or spa with a pouch. Just keep an eye on your wafer or ostomy seal, which can begin to break down after an extended time in hot water.