The Importance of Looking After the Skin Around Your Stoma
Last updated: April 2019
When I found out I was going to have to have my bladder removed and have a stoma and a bag, I had no idea what would be needed to be done to look after "it". In fact, if I'm honest, I didn't know "it" needed looking after at all. I just thought all I had to do was get the bag off and then stick a new one back in its place.
The importance of stoma skin care
But, it turns out there can be a lot more to it!
After surgery and while I was still in the hospital, I was presented with a blue plastic lunch-type box with a few basic supplies to keep me going for a few days until I had got a delivery company in place. Inside the box was the telephone number of my local stoma nurse and a step-by-step instruction sheet on how to change my bag, along with six stoma bags, one can of adhesive remover spray, dry wipes, and a pack of disposal bags. That was the total contents of the box.
So many different stoma products available
It was when I arrived back home that I began to find out just how many different types of stoma bags and "accessories" were actually available! Supplier after supplier contacted me wanting me to try out their products. Personally, I think it's best to consult with your stoma nurse and to take their "steer" on what they feel would best suit your needs.
However, among all the "stuff" that suppliers want you to try will be some kind of "barrier" spray, wipe, or cream. This was something that neither the hospital nor my stoma nurse had mentioned to me. I had been taught the importance of cleaning the area around the skin, but not really about the importance of how you maintain the good condition of the skin around your stoma.
The peristomal skin
At first, I had no issues with my peristomal skin (to give it its correct name). But what I started to experience was, after a few days and the repeated removing and replacing of bags, the area just around my stoma and the outer edges where the base plate ended were becoming increasingly reddened and sore. So, I consulted with my supplier, as they have trained stoma nurses available for you to speak with. A nurse spoke to me, and I explained my situation, that the skin around my stoma was now red, sore and, in small areas, was beginning to crack and bleed a little. Also, tiny, red little spots, similar in looks to a tiny ulcer, were beginning to appear on the skin around my stoma opening. I sent over to her an actual photo of my stoma and the skin surrounding it so she could better asses my problem. I also fully explained to her my bag-changing routine and what, if any, products I used.
The importance of using a skin barrier
It appeared that I was doing everything correctly with the exception of not applying a "barrier". I was a little confused, as I really didn't know what she was speaking about. She explained that she recommended that anyone with a stoma should really be using some kind of barrier spray/wipe or cream. The barrier type you choose is applied all over the peristomal skin area. This is applied after cleaning the area and before applying the new bag. This then gives the skin underneath a "layer" of protection from the continual use of adhesive on the skin and also from any urine that may leak.
Finding the right barrier product
So, when you are receiving offers to try this, that or the other, I personally would recommend taking a few samples of the various barrier products that may be offered to you and to start using one straight away. That way, by protecting your skin with a barrier, it should help prevent skin problems in the future.
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