Keeping the skin around your stoma (peristomal skin) healthy is important. You can steer clear of many complications by following these simple suggestions:
Bath and shower tips
- You can bathe and shower just as you did before surgery, with your pouch on or off—the choice is up to you.
- Because soap residue can cause your skin barrier to lift, avoid oil-based and moisturizing soaps.
- Soap and water will not flow into the stoma and cannot damage it.
Choose a well-fitting skin barrier
- To help keep the skin around your stoma healthy, it is important that your skin barrier fits properly. Choose a well-fitting pouching system to help prevent irritating stoma contents from coming into contact with your skin.
- Your ostomy nurse can teach you how to use a measuring guide to determine the size of your stoma and select a cut-to-fit, pre-cut or moldable barrier. Your stoma size will change up to 10 weeks after surgery, so you will need to measure it periodically.
- Changes to the abdomen caused by pregnancy, exercise, weight gain/loss or certain medical conditions may also require a new pouching system and/or size.
Tips for pouching system changes
- Make an easy-to-follow schedule for your pouching system. This will ensure your skin barrier is changed before the adhesive has eroded, reducing the chance of urine or feces coming into contact with your skin. Your schedule should be personalized based on your system type and the advice of your doctor or ostomy nurse.
- At each skin barrier and pouch change, make a habit of looking at the skin around your stoma. Redness, swelling or a rash are signs of irritation. If you see any of these, or other signs of irritation, notify your healthcare provider.
- Never rip or tear off your skin barrier. Instead, remove the skin barrier gently by beginning with one corner of the barrier and slowly pulling off the remaining adhesive. Adhesive releaser spray and remover wipes can make pouch changes easier and ensure clean skin, ready for your next skin barrier.
- Make sure your peristomal skin is completely dry before replacing your pouch and skin barrier. Dry skin ensures a good adhesive seal and helps reduce the risk of fungal infection.
- A skin care routine including skin barrier foam, spray or wipes can help ensure healthy, comfortable peristomal skin for years to come.
- In hot, humid locations, consider using a pouch with a fabric backing. This will keep the pouch from sticking to your skin and causing skin irritation.