Stoma Skin Care 101
When it comes to the challenges of living life after receiving a stoma, skin care tops the list for many. Studies show that up to one-third of colostomy patients and over two-thirds of ileostomy and urostomy patients experience peristomal skin (the skin around the stoma) issues. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re one of them. The good news, is that you’ve come to the right place. As Canada’s one-stop resource for ostomy supplies (and information) we are here to answer your questions about stoma skin care so that you can live life irritation-free.
Easy to Follow 5-Step Guide to Maintaining the Health of the Skin Surrounding Your Stoma
1. Learn to Recognize Healthy (and Unhealthy) Peristomal Skin
New stoma recipients are not yet versed in what to expect when it comes to the appearance and overall health of their peristomal skin. You may chalk up redness and/or irritation up to being the cost of living with a stoma, but this isn’t the case. Your peristomal skin should have essentially the same appearance as the skin on the other side of your abdomen. Assuming you have no preexisting skin condition (eczema), the skin should be smooth and without irritation. As soon as you exhibit signs of the opposite, you will need to make adjustments with either your equipment, skin care products, diet, or all of the above.
2. Apply the Right Appliances
An ill-fitting stoma pouch and/or flange is often the leading cause a peristomal skin problem. Therefore, you will need to choose an ostomy bag that’s right for you.
Assuming that all else is equal, colostomates will want to opt for closed, non-drainable, pouches. An ileostomate should use high-quality drainable stoma bags, and urostomates are best served with transparent (for quick identification) drainable bags. Drainable pouches minimize the frequency of which you need to remove the appliance, which will reduce potential for irritation. View more on how to choose a stoma appliance that is right for you.
In addition, you should only buy stoma pouches and accessories with a more pliable fit. There are products on the market that have patented technologies that provide for this. One leader in stoma appliances, is Coloplast. They have developed what is called BodyFit technology. BodyFit materials work with and respond to the natural movement of your body, while maintaining optimal adhesion throughout the day, regardless of your activity level. Other brands that have tapped into new technology to deliver appliances that better protect sensitive peristomal skin include Convatec and Hollister. Hollister pouches infuse barriers with ceraminde, which offer wearers elevated skin-protection.
Simply put, your first act in stoma skin care, is to choose the right equipment. InnerGood has done the groundwork for you and performed the due diligence required to ensure that you are receiving the best stoma pouch systems on the market.
3. Use Dedicated Stoma Skin Care Products
Ostomates can’t just depend upon the same cleaners, creams, lotions, and solutions that their household has been applying for its day to day skin care regime since day one. That Costco-sized tub of aloe vera gel won’t quite cut it. You need to keep a cabinet stocked with skin care supplies specifically intended for those living with a stoma.
What will that cabinet look like? Whether or not you’re already exhibiting signs of skin irritation, you should keep a skin crack care formula and natural body powder on hand at all times. For prevention or irritation caused by adhesives and waste leakage, use a protective liquid skin barrier in addition to skin adhesive sprays and wipes and skin barrier sprays and wipes. Also, if you’re using surgical tape to help secure your appliance, use a roll that is hypoallergenic with a gentle adhesive. Once again, InnerGood has taken the guess work out of the equation, and provided a list of recommended stoma skin care products.
4. Understand that Skin Care Also Comes from the Inside Out
What occurs beneath the surface also has an impact on the health of your peristomal skin. Nutrition plays a wide variety of roles in the wound healing process and overall skin health. Nutrition can impact immune function, collagen synthesis, and wound tensile strength, and yet it is often overlooked when it comes to stoma skin care.
For instance, antioxidants are essential in the prevention and repair of skin irritation. InnerGood has provided a list of antioxidant supplements to consider, right here. Omega-3 EPA and DHA essential fatty acids also play an important role in maintaining the health of the skin surrounding your stoma, while Vitamin C (for collagen synthesis), Vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, zinc, copper, and magnesium are also considered essential skin health nutrients by many. Find more of our recommended health supplements for ostomates in the diet and nutrition section of our blog. Also see our article entitled, “Stoma Skin Problems? 5 Supplements You Need to Know About“.
5. Regular Visits with Your Physician
It’s important to conclude with a note that regular consultation with your physician is one of the best ways to maintain optimal stoma skin care health. They will help you identify areas for concern, make recommendations, and monitor your progress as you try new appliances, products, and supplements, and nip the potential for worsening skin conditions in the bud.
We want to hear from you. Share your knowledge with our community on how you manage skin care in the comment section below. If you have any questions about the information above, contact InnerGood today, and remember to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for future updates that are relevant to you.