Looking after your peristomal skin (the ring of your skin that sits under your bag) is a vital part of your stoma care routine. It is important to avoid faeces or urine from coming into contact with your skin otherwise this can cause sore and inflamed patches around your stoma. Not only is this painful and uncomfortable, it can also affect how your pouch sticks to your skin, which can lead to leaks from your pouch. It is important to know how to prevent and treat these skin problems. Below are some tips for looking after your skin
Make sure your pouches are cut to the correct size
Your pouch should be cut to fit exactly around your stoma. Your stoma nurse will be able to show you how to accurately measure your stoma. If you wafer is cut too big it can lead to leaks and sore skin. If your wafer is too small, these can dig into and cut your stoma and restrict your output, also leading to leaks.
Use a barrier ring or paste to fill in any uneven cracks or edges around your stoma
This can help prevent output from leaking under your bag or getting onto your skin.
A convex pouch may help if you have an inverted stoma
If your stoma sits below skin level, a convex pouch can help push it forward allowing the output to fall into the bag rather than seep under, which can happen with a flat wafer. You must speak to your stoma nurse before using a convex pouch. A convex pouch can cause damage to a stoma if it’s not needed.
Make sure your skin is dry before applying your pouch
To make sure your pouch sticks effectively, clean the peristomal area with clean, warm water and dry thoroughly before applying the pouch. Avoid using wet wipes or baby wipes as these can contain moisturisers that may irritate the skin or stop your pouch from effectively sticking to your skin.
Use an adhesive remover to take off your pouch
Avoid any damage to your skin by using an adhesive remover when changing your pouch. Your GP should be able to prescribe this alongside your ostomy bags and can be delivered by your ostomy company or pharmacy.
If you do have sore skin
Ask your stoma nurse for advice or contact the Bladder and Bowel Home Delivery Service where our specialist nurses can help you with any skincare questions. Having ‘bag off’ time can help and allow the skin to breathe (remember to have some paper towels or tissues hand in case of any unexpected output). For any sore or itchy patches calamine lotion can help or a barrier of cream/spray such as Cavilon. Make sure that these are fully dry before trying to reapply your pouch. Be careful of which creams you apply as some may affect your pouches ability to stick.