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April 1, 2017

How to Prevent Skin Breakdown Around Stoma

Approximately three-quarters of those who have received an ostomy experience skins problems around the stoma, to some extent. You’re not alone, nor should you be alarmed, assuming the skin irritations are within reasons.

The reasons for the breakdown of your skin in this sensitive area are easy enough to identify. Among them, are appliance leaks, frequent appliance removal (which leads to skin-stripping), inadequate sizing of the stoma flange, and/or a retracted stoma which can lead to the collection of waste under the flange.

Your first course of action when it comes to prevention, is to consult with your physician on the matter, especially in the initial months after receiving your stoma. That being said, as time progresses there are certainly preventive measures that you can take to prevent skin breakdown around your stoma. Sometimes, the most practical solutions are the most impactful. Let’s take a look at them.

3 Things You Can Do to Keep the Skin Surrounding Your Stoma Healthy

1. Make Sure You’re Using the Right Equipment

One of the biggest culprits to cause stoma skin conditions is poorly fitting ostomy pouches and flanges. For starters, you’re going to need to brush up on how to choose an ostomy bag. For instance, someone with a colostomy will consider closed (non-drainable) pouches. Ileostomates more often use drainable ostomy bags, and urostomates opt for transparent drainable bags. The latter two reduce the need for frequent removal which will serve your skin well. Read more on how to choose an ostomy bag that is right for you.

Once you’ve got that out of the way, you will want to focus on ostomy pouches and accessories that offer a more flexible fit. For example, some Coloplast products incorporate BodyFit technology, where which materials respond to natural body movement without impacting adhesive properties. Some Convatec bags use technology that has been formulated with the core intent to protect your sensitive peristomal skin. Hollister brand bags offer enhanced skin-protection by infusing barriers with ceraminde. In the end, the right equipment will serve as your first line of defense in stoma skin problem prevention. View recommended appliances and accessories that will help you accomplish this.

2. Make Sure You’re Using the Right Stoma Skin Care Products

Next to appliance and accessory selection and use, skin care becomes a priority in skin breakdown prevention. Too often ostomates stock up on skin care products after epidermis issues have reared their head. That’s not preventative. Instead, develop a skin care regime from the get-go (or starting today). Consider it as you would a household first-aid kit. Include a skin crack care formula to nip skin breakdown in the bud, before it gets worse. Add a natural body powder to relieve the discomfort of chaffed skin and minor skin irritations. That will keep you from rubbing and itching which can turn a relative non-issue into a big one. Toss in a protective liquid skin barrier that will protect against irritants such as appliance adhesives and waste leakage. Make space for skin adhesive sprays and wipes in addition to skin barrier sprays and wipes, all of which will help keep the skin around your stoma free of appliance and accessory driven irritations. Lastly, remember to add a roll of hypoallergenic surgical tape with a gentle (yet effective) adhesive that is both conformable and breathable.

Keep in mind that not just any skin care products will do. You will need to choose those that have been vetted by the ostomate community. View recommended stoma skin care products (that address the needs above) here.

3. Make Sure You’re Supplementing Your Nutrition to Promote Healthy Skin

OK, so you’ve dialed in the right ostomy appliances, accessories, and skin care products. Now you need to focus on the inside out. The health of your skin around your stoma also depends upon what you consume on a daily basis.

To begin with, understand the importance of antioxidants in skin irritation prevention (and repair). You need need these all important nutrients to maintain the health of your epidermis and even though you’re eating your fair share of blueberries, pecans, prunes, spinach, and kale (right?) absorption may not be keeping up with your needs. That’s where supplementation comes in. View this list of recommended antioxidant supplements here.

Essential fatty acids, in the form of omega-3 EPA and DHA, are also extremely important. They help in the maintenance of the skin surrounding your stoma, and will assist in repairing irritations. Since your body does not produce these on their own, you need to supplement accordingly. You also need Vitamin C, which is essential to the health of your skin because of its role in collagen synthesis. Vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, zinc, copper, and manganese are also important. View more on recommended nutritional supplements that account for the above. In fact, by being aware of your common nutritional deficiencies as an ostomate you set the table for all around skin health, which is a direct step towards stoma skin breakdown prevention.

Contact Inner Good with any question you may have about the supplies detailed in this article.

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3 Replies to “How to Prevent Skin Breakdown Around Stoma”

    1. Good question Marlene!

      Yes, you can apply a skin barrier to help your skin to heal, then apply your barrier ring and pouching system on top of that.

      We are unsure of your specific skin issues or product brand, but we generally try to encourage the philosophy of “less is more”. Start with the minimum and add layers as needed. If you are struggling with leaks or skin issues, we would encourage you to visit an NSWOC (nurse who specializes in wound, Ostomy and continence. Often their advice and product selection help can sort out most issues quickly. If you are based in Canada, you can schedule a consulation with our ET Nure here.

      Good luck!

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