Caring for a Colostomy
Protecting the skin around the stoma
The skin around your stoma should always look the same as skin anywhere else on your abdomen. But ostomy output can make this skin tender or sore. Here are some ways to help keep your skin healthy:
Use the right size pouch and skin barrier opening. An opening that’s too small can cut or injure the stoma and may cause it to swell. If the opening is too large, output could get to and irritate the skin. In both cases, change the pouch or skin barrier and replace it with one that fits well.
Change the pouching system regularly to avoid leaks and skin irritation. Itching and burning are signs that the skin needs to be cleaned and the pouching system should be changed.
Do not rip the pouching system away from the skin or remove it more than once a day unless there’s a problem. Remove the skin barrier gently by pushing your skin away from the sticky barrier rather than pulling the barrier away from the skin.
Clean the skin around the stoma with water. Dry the skin completely before putting on the skin barrier or pouch.
Watch for sensitivities and allergies to the adhesive, skin barrier, paste, tape, or pouch material. They can develop after weeks, months, or even years of using a product because you can become sensitized over time. If your skin is irritated only where the plastic pouch touches it, you might try a pouch cover or a different brand of pouch. Pouch covers are available from supply manufacturers, or you can make your own.
You may have to test different products to see how your skin reacts to them. If you feel comfortable testing yourself, follow the directions under “Patch testing” that follow. If you’re not comfortable doing this on your own and the problem continues, talk to your doctor or ostomy nurse.
Patch testing different products for skin sensitivity or allergies. Patch testing can be done to see if you’re sensitive to or allergic to a product used as part of your ostomy care. Place a small piece of the material to be tested on the skin of your belly, far away from the stoma. If the material is not self-sticking attach it with an adhesive tape that you know you’re not allergic to Leave it on for 48 hours.
-Source: American Cancer Society