Essential Tips for Maintaining Skin Health and Hygiene with a Stoma

Proper stoma care is vital to ensure optimal stoma function, prevent complications, and maintain a comfortable and hygienic experience. This in-depth article will provide you with essential tips for maintaining skin health and hygiene when living with a stoma. We’ll cover essential aspects of stoma care, such as cleaning the stoma, preventing skin irritation, selecting the right pouching system, and troubleshooting common issues.
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Table of Contents

The Importance of Proper Stoma Care

A stoma is a surgically created opening that allows waste to exit the body, bypassing the usual route through the rectum or urethra.

Maintaining skin health around the stoma is crucial to prevent complications, such as infections or skin breakdown. Proper stoma care ensures a comfortable and positive experience, allowing individuals with a stoma to live a fulfilling and active life.


Cleaning the Stoma and Surrounding Skin

Keeping the stoma and the surrounding skin clean is essential for preventing infections and maintaining overall skin health.

Follow these tips for effective stoma cleaning:

Woman with a stoma


Preventing and Managing Skin Irritation

Skin irritation is a common issue for individuals with a stoma. It’s essential to take steps to prevent and manage skin irritation, such as:

  • Ensure a proper fit of the pouching system to minimize leaks and skin exposure to waste.
  • Change the pouch regularly, as recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • Use stoma skin barriers or protective films to shield the skin from irritation and maintain a secure seal between the skin and the pouch.
  • Inspect the skin around the stoma regularly for signs of redness, inflammation, or other issues. If you notice any problems, consult your healthcare provider or stoma nurse for guidance.


Selecting the Right Pouching System

The right pouching system is crucial for maintaining skin health and hygiene. Consider the following factors when selecting a pouching system:

  • Type of stoma: The type of stoma (colostomy, ileostomy, or urostomy) will influence the pouching system you require.
  • Pouching system style: Choose between one-piece or two-piece systems based on your personal preference, comfort, and lifestyle.
  • Pouch size: Select a pouch size that provides a secure fit around your stoma without restricting its function.
  • Adhesive type: Opt for a hypoallergenic adhesive that securely adheres to your skin without causing irritation.
  • Additional features: Consider additional features such as pouch covers for added discretion and transparent or opaque pouch options based on your personal preferences and needs.

It’s essential to consult with your stoma nurse or healthcare provider to determine the most suitable pouching system for your specific circumstances. They can guide you through the selection process and help you find the best solution for your needs.


Troubleshooting Common Stoma and Skin Issues

Despite careful stoma care, issues may still arise. Here are some common stoma and skin problems, along with tips for addressing them:

  • Skin irritation: Ensure a proper fit of the pouching system, use skin barriers, and keep the area clean and dry. If irritation persists, consult your healthcare provider.
  • Leakage: Check for a secure seal between the pouch and the skin, and ensure the pouch is the correct size for your stoma. If leakage continues, speak with your stoma nurse or healthcare provider for further guidance.
  • Odour: Use odour-neutralizing products specifically designed for stoma pouches, and ensure that the pouch’s filter is functioning correctly.
  • Bleeding: Minor bleeding around the stoma may occur during cleaning or pouch changes. If bleeding is persistent or excessive, consult your healthcare provider.
  • Prolapsed or retracted stoma: If your stoma appears to protrude or retract significantly, contact your healthcare provider for an assessment and guidance on managing the issue.
Person checking the skin around their stoma


Conclusion: Prioritising Skin Health for a Comfortable Stoma Experience

Maintaining skin health and hygiene when living with a stoma is essential for a comfortable and fulfilling experience.

By following the tips outlined in this article, including cleaning the stoma, preventing skin irritation, selecting the right pouching system, and troubleshooting common issues, you can effectively care for your stoma and enjoy an active, healthy life.

Remember to consult with your healthcare team and stoma nurse for personalised guidance and support, as they are invaluable resources in helping you navigate life with a stoma.

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Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Always follow the advice from your GP or healthcare professional