Tips for Winter Ostomy Care

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the temperatures are starting to fall and many of us are even seeing snow! Now I don’t know about you, but as soon as the temperature and humidity drops, my skin gets unbearably dry. Just as I switch up my skin care routine to combat the cold weather dryness, I am now finding I need to alter my ostomy care as well! As anyone with an ostomy knows, caring for your peristomal skin is priority number one. So, if you have an ostomy and seasonally dry skin, I’d like to share a few tips I’ve discovered when caring for my ostomy in the winter.

Moisturized skin is happy skin

In the colder months, when I’m doing a bag change, I like to rub in just a pea-sized amount of fragrance-free facial moisturizer all around on my peristomal skin. I give it a minute or two to absorb and dry down, then lightly pat with tissue to make sure there are no “wet” spots. By only applying a small amount and letting it absorb, I’ve found this never impacts the ability for my ostomy wafer to stick or lessens the time the wafer is able to be worn. I will also skip using my stoma powder and doing a full crusting technique when my skin is feeling dry. After my moisturizer dries. I just follow with a barrier wipe and slap that wafer on!

Skip the soap unless necessary

Soap is just inherently drying. Even the incredibly gentle cleanser I use most of the year is just too much when the temperatures drop. I try to stick with just a cloth and lukewarm water when cleaning up my peristomal skin in the winter. The key is the lukewarm water when doing this. As wonderful as hot water may feel, it will dry the skin out and leave it prone to being irritated.

Making sure my bag is completely dry

I like to make sure my bag is completely dry after a shower before getting dressed in the winter. When we are wearing more layers to stay warm, trapping a damp bag against the skin can lead to skin irritation and much faster lifting of the edges around your wafer. I’ve been known to bust out the hairdryer and give my ostomy bag a quick blast on low heat to make sure it is bone dry. Beyond preventing skin irritation, I also have noticed any dampness underneath winter layers can cause a not so pleasant smell to the ostomy bag.

Letting my skin breathe

The best thing I’ve done for preserving my peristomal skin in the cold weather is embracing at least one bag-free shower a week. I follow this by letting my skin air dry completely after. This has been as easy as sitting on my closed toilet with a towel on my lap. I tend to change when I know my stoma isn’t as active, so I’m usually only dealing with a few drips. I’ve noticed by letting my skin breathe this way, I’ve been able to prevent so many skin issues year round.

Do you alter your bag change routine depending on the weather?

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