How to Properly Care for Your Stoma
Learning to clean and protect your stoma is the first order of business after an ostomy. Health-care professionals advise that the best way to clean a stoma is with plain warm water. Don’t rub at your stoma as it could cause irritation. Instead, pat it dry with a clean towel or paper towel and don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards.
Skin can become inflamed and irritated when it comes into contact with stoma output. This can create problems when you’re trying to attach your appliance. Keeping the skin around your stoma as dry as possible at all times is important to keep skin healthy but also so that the adhesive attached to your appliance sticks properly to your body.
One of the most important factors in caring for your stoma is finding an appliance that protects your skin as well as giving you a secure fit. If the appliance is ill fitting in any way, the skin around the stoma can become red, irritated, inflamed and painful. Many ostomates have reported good results using a barrier ring. A barrier ring is a moldable ring that is used to create a better seal between your stoma and your appliance. Barrier rings can be molded to fit the shape you desire and will protect your skin against output.
How to Prevent Skin Infections
As mentioned above, keeping the skin around your stoma as dry as possible at all times is one of the best ways to prevent skin infections as a result of your ostomy. Likewise, an ill-fitting appliance can allow output to leak and come into contact with your skin so you may have to try a number of different appliances before you find one that fits well, or you can also try using a barrier ring to reduce any exposure of the skin to leakage.
Skin infections can also arise for other reasons, however. It is possible to develop a sensitivity or allergy to one of the products you’re using. It could be to the adhesive or tube paste, in which case you will need to speak with your health-care provider to find a better alternative.
Redness, itchiness and inflammation may also be due to a yeast infection. The Canadian GI Society reports that yeast infections are typically bright red in the initial stages, with irregular borders or edges and often several smaller pink dots on the skin outside the main area of infection. Because yeast likes to grow in warm, dark places, the area under your ostomy appliance is the ideal environment for this type of fungal infection. The Canadian GI Society recommends treating yeast infections with a silver based powder called Arglaes® which is applied directly onto the skin and “sealed” with a skin barrier wipe. Do not use an anti-fungal cream, as it will prevent your flange from adhering to your skin.
How to Choose the Right Ostomy Pouch
Choosing the right ostomy pouch might take you some time in the beginning, which is perfectly normal. After surgery it can take a few weeks or even months for your stoma to shrink to its normal size. So you may find that what works for you in the weeks after surgery is not working for you later on. As well, depending on your diet and level of activity you may find that you need different sized pouches at different times.
Ideally your pouch should provide you with a secure fit. This can be difficult depending on the location of your stoma. You may find that the area around your stoma is uneven or that your stoma needs help to protrude. In situations like these usually a barrier ring will provide the right amount of support and you can then choose your pouch accordingly.
Today there are many different types of ostomy pouches available. These include the following:
- Drainable ostomy pouch
- Filtered ostomy bags
- Flat ostomy pouch
- Mini ostomy pouch
- Multi-chambered ostomy pouch
- One-piece ostomy pouch
- Opaque ostomy pouch
- Ostomy belt
- Pre-cut ostomy pouch
- Transparent ostomy pouch
- Two-piece ostomy pouch
Which pouch you choose will depend on your priorities. For example, you may choose a mini ostomy pouch if you’re planning to wear fitted clothing and want something extra discreet while an ostomy belt will serve you better in situations where you need extra security such as during exercise. As you become more familiar with your ostomy and the needs of your body you will begin to become more familiar with how these products can work for you.
For a better understanding of the various types of appliances available feel free to browse our selection of premium-grade ostomy products and accessories.