Healing the Skin around the Stoma – OSTOMY TIPS (w/ Video)


The ideal appliance will fit in a way that protects your skin while also providing a durable, and secure fit. Unfortunately, not every ostomate can achieve this balance so easily, so many will experience a breakdown of skin around the stoma.


This happened to me a short while after getting my ostomy, as my new stoma was still shrinking down from its swollen state. I was quite inexperienced, so rather than change my appliance more often, I’d try to get 5+ day wear time, which meant that as my stoma became smaller, it left room for my output to eat away at my skin.

As you can see from the photos below, I had fairly deep erosion of the skin, and it hurt a lot. At the time, I had used the “crusting technique”, which involves putting stoma powder on the exposed, raw part of my skin, dust it off and apply a barrier using either barrier wipes or cavilon spray. You do this a few times to build up protection on the skin, and to allow the wafer to stick to something other than the powder. This technique does work for many people, but it worked very slowly for me.

Very painful peristomal skin 28 days post op
Very painful peristomal skin 28 days post op

More recently, as I’ve been in between wafer samples, I began to get more breakdown of the skin. I attempted to remedy this using the crusting technique, but I wasn’t getting the results I wanted; so instead, I opted to simply use a barrier ring without any powder or barrier wipes. The results impressed me, and my skin has probably never looked that good around the stoma.

Ostomy Barrier Ring on wafer
Barrier rings can be applied to a wafer (just remember to remove the release liner from the wafer first!).
Ostomy Barrier Ring on skin
Barrier rings can also be molded to fit around any size or shape of a stoma.
Healthy skin around the stoma
Healthy skin around the stoma.

And here’s another example of how quickly this method can heal damaged skin:

Stoma Healing after 2 days small
Two days and look at the difference!

Now, I continue to use a barrier ring when I notice more breakdown of the skin. I may continue to use them more regularly, but they are quite expensive and I’m not done trying new appliances that might offer a better fit.

Here’s a video showing how I change my appliance, including how I use barrier rings.

Before you change your routine, you should check with your stoma nurse first, unless you’re willing to experiment on your own.
If you’re interesting in the “crusting technique” for healing peristomal skin, check out THIS article.
QUESTION: What techniques have you tried to heal up your skin?

72 thoughts on “Healing the Skin around the Stoma – OSTOMY TIPS (w/ Video)

  1. Hello to all,

    I am a new permanent ileostomate(3 weeks). At the age of 54, I now am cured of my 20 years of having UC. I am so relieved and happy to have had the surgery and now will be involved with using stoma appliances and I am actually excited…There are soo many options and remedies that it truly puts my mind at ease and am very happy for this site.
    I am currently using Coloplast products and their customer service is excellent. I have had no issues with getting samples. One of there recommended sites for ordering supplies is CanMedDirect.ca. There prices are actually very reasonable.

    VO, in my opinion, your videos and advice are top notch!

    To all, take care and all the best!

  2. This may be a weird one, but have you ever had sores and bleeding not on the skin at the base of the stoma, but around the shaft of the stoma itself. I have tried barrier rings molded up and around the stoma, doing the turtleneck thing, but the blood and (i guess clear inflammatory fluid) are REALLY doing a number on the survivability of the stoma cover (it doesn’t leak poop ever, but blood is what starts to leak out.

    Would you recommend barrier ring, just stick with it for a while longer, or do you know of any tips for this situation? The stoma nurses at my hospital are usually great, but they just kind of shrugged about this one.

    • Hey Rich,

      Hmm. I’d get a second opinion from another stoma nurse. While bleeding around the stoma can sometimes be normal, sores are not, and I’d prefer that it gets looked at to determine what exactly they are.

      Once you know what’s causing them, you can proceed with how to better manage them.

      Best of luck!

  3. I just wanted to send a quick note to say thank you so much for your videos and advice! I have a temporary ileostomy. I am two weeks in with this which I will have for three months if all goes well. I too have experienced the skin breaking down around the wafer just recently. I think I did not anticipate how quickly the stoma would shrink and sized my wafer way to big. My stoma does not stick out very far and the ostomy nurse said it would likely cause more irritation as a result. I tried barrier rings for the first time today and I am hoping and praying it works. The irritation is very painful when I walk. There are lots of good ideas here I am going to try. I have been told to change the wafer every 4 days or every 7 days, but I am reading here I may need to change sooner with the irritation. This whole process can be emotionally and physically draining for us new ostomy folks and finding your site has been a life line. Thank you!!

    • Best of luck to you, Lori!

      The “4 to 7 day” recommendation is ideal, but many people can’t push their appliance that long without developing problems. If I go more than 5 days consistently, I’ll have skin trouble guaranteed!

      I hope the barrier ring works for you. You may need to try different brands to see which one works best for you. The Brava Protective Rings by Coloplast have been really good and don’t break down or “melt” as often as other brands.

      • Thank you so much for the advice! I looked into the Brava Protective Rings by Coloplast. I saw your video on it and it said in the comments you could only get it in the UK and Canada. Is it available in the US now? Should I order directly from Coloplast? Also, I have been showering with the bag (not brave enough to go the other way just yet :) ) and I was wondering if that breaks down the barrier ring faster? My ostomy is active and I have not really figured out a time yet when it settles down…but that is probably more about what I am eating/drinking than the stoma itself. If the skin is aggravated, should I be letting it “breathe”?

        • You may want to contact Coloplast to see if any of their US dealers sell them. I saw that a company called Medline has them, but I don’t know much about them as a supplier.

          Showering with your appliance is fine. If you notice that the edges of your wafer peels, you can use a wafer extender or medical tape, but it shouldn’t peel very much.

          Don’t worry about your stoma being active – if you aren’t comfortable then keep the bag on :) I do tend to “air out” my stoma on occasion, and there’s no harm in doing it, and I believe it can help with raw/aggravated skin.

          • Hey there! I reached out to the Ostomy nurse (through my surgeon/hospital system) and spent some time with her this past week. She was a wealth of information. She told me that my stoma sits in a crease when I sit up directly. As a result, she said I needed to use a convex cut to push the skin down and the stoma up. She also said I needed to wear a belt all the time to help further with pushing the skin down. I am now using Hollister Premier One-Piece Soft Convex Cut-to-fit Beige Drainable Pouch With Remois Technology. In addition she said I need to change the wafer/bag every two days. What a difference it has made in a short time! I wish I had consulted her two weeks ago. According to the nurse, there is something within the wafer itself that is supposed to help with skin issues as well. We will see. Thank you for all of your advice! She also agreed with you in regards to the barrier rings and thought that could help me further now that I have the right fitting wafer. Thanks for fighting the good fight out here in Ostomy land. :) You are appreciated!

        • Lori, I have been where you are just a month or so ago. I also have a temporary ileostomy and am about 3 months out now. My takedown was supposed to be in March but the surgeon has pushed it back to May because I have a loop ileostomy and, after an exam and explaining what they have to do in the surgery, he said he wanted more time because I wasn’t healed enough yet. I was devastated. And the soonest they could do it was the day before my birthday. So happy birthday to me! But as many assured me, it is better to wait then for them to get in there and not be able to reattach me and have to go back through my abdominal incision (I have severe sepsis from a perforated intestine from a hysterectomy days before and had to be cut all the way open and my ileostomy was a result of that). So anyway-back to the point :) I have terrible trouble with breakdown and I too have an active stoma. I used the Chloroplast rings and found they broke down quite fast for me so I switched to a thick Hollister ring that seems to be more ‘waxy’ and it has worked great. I order all my supplies through Amazon. When I did have skin irritation I tried a technique I found on here using a product called Domeboro. I only had to do the soak once and it worked! I also was petrified of taking a shower without my bag on. But one day I just did it. And my stoma was active and I just let the poo rinse off and cleaned out the shower after. It will get easier and better. I know how emotionally hard it can be and just wanted to reassure you it will get better. Eric had been a great help to me, as well as these forums and videos. Keep your chin up. There is hope!

          • Sarah,

            Thank you so much for your very kind and encouraging words! I always need to hear them! I am so sorry that you could not do your reversal sooner. I am so hopeful that mine will be quick but if not, I will just have to deal with it. Now that I have the right wafer and am in less pain/discomfort with it I think I can manage emotionally if I had to go longer. I know what you mean about birthdays! I had my colon removed/ J pouch surgery at 22 years old the day before my 23rd birthday. :) I am now 40 and just had surgery for a fistula repair…thus the ostomy while it heals. That surgery was on Valentines day! ha ha. I have to think it brings us good luck! Thankfully this last surgery was planned and I had several months to get ready for it mentally and physically. I cannot image emotionally all you have been through. You are a trooper! Even through this bad experience you are able to help others like me. I will keep you in my prayers and I hope May gets here quickly for you!

    • Hi Lori,
      I just got a temporary diverting ileostomy which I will have for 3 months also. If you don’t mind, may I ask why you had your procedure. Mine is a trial for conservation of colectomy for slow transit constipation.
      I did fine up until 8th day post-op when I started having increased pain and tenderness over the stoma. Pain goes from rib to groin.

      • Lori,
        I am new to this site as I read further, you explained your situation. I hope you are doing well In your recovery.
        My situation/diagnosis of slow transit constipation seems rare. My colon just refuses todo its job! 🤪

  4. I have had my ileostomy for about 3 months. Recently I have noticed breakdown of the skin just underneath my stoma. I use the stoma powder and then apply the barrier ring and the the wafer. And I was changing about every 3-4 days. But the last couple changes I noticed the red skin not healing. It is not bleeding or oozing anything but I am concerned with it seeming to get larger every time I change. I am not having any leaks, I just notice this when I change the bag. I called my nurse and she said it sounded like I was doing everything right and maybe I need to change more often. But that concerns me of what it will do to the rest of my skin, especially the already irritated part. I use all Hollister products and through trial and error thought I had it mostly figured out. But now I am not so sure. I just don’t want the irritated skin to get worse and am not sure what to do next? My stoma does contract and sink down at times so I am not sure besides the barrier ring what else to do to help with that? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hey Sarah,

      I agree with your nurse and you might want to try changing maybe every 2-3 days for a few weeks to see if that improves things.

      Generally speaking, I don’t use the stoma powder unless the skin is weepy (if it’s just red or irritated, the stoma powder won’t help with much).

      Best of luck to you!

        • I would stick with your current appliance and barrier ring, but change them a day sooner than normal. Unless you’re having specific trouble with the particular supplies you’re using, I see no reason to change them for anything else.

          You’ll probably find that once your skin has healed and is back to normal, you’ll be able to wear your appliance longer again. Damaged skin makes it very difficult to wear an appliance for very long, and many times the irritation leads to weepy skin, then problems with the adhesive sticking.

          Update me in a few weeks and hopefully your skin will be happy again :)

  5. My urostomy is 7 months old and buried. I have lots of bumps and folds in my belly which made it very difficult to find products. I finally found a bag and wafer that works for me but the area around my stoma has broken down. My doctor says the longer I keep the bag on the better, but it’s not getting any better. I am using calamine lotion and airing out the stoma for about an hour. Is it better to change the bag more often?

    • Hi Reva, changing too often or not often enough can both cause problems. I personally don’t wear my appliance for longer than two or three days if the skin is raw and sore. I find that keeping it on longer causes more skin erosion and removing it more often than that just irritates my skin. I do find that my skin will heal very quickly (a few days) if given the right conditions, so if you have ongoing trouble, I’d suggest having a stoma nurse look at it for an assessment.

    • My stoma nurse recommended two products that healed my very deteriorated skin surrounding my stoma super quick. The first was using Domboro soaks for 15 minutes on the skin around my stoma for 15 minutes with every change. It is found at a pharmacy and is an antiseptic powder you mix with water. I would simply soak paper towel strips in the solution and wrap around my stoma. After dry, I applied Hollihesive under my flange and within a few weeks (4-5 changes every 3-4 days) the skin was tremendously improved. Good luck!

  6. for those who are having rashes etc. I swear by calalum lotion it has helped me in a big way . doesn’t cost a lot , just make sure it is dry before you but the bag on can buy it in the drug store . belive me it works .I I was beside myself with raw skin . great stuff and you save a ton of money . I don’t spend money on all this stuff they have out , good luck

    • Hey Sally,

      Is that “calamine lotion” (the pink stuff)? If so, I’ll correct your post :)

      I used calamine lotion several times under my nurses recommendation. It was a while ago, but I did have some success with it! Glad it works for you!

  7. I’ve had my ostomy for 10 years now and I’ve tried so many things to help with skin erosion, oddly enough after all the expensive treatments I found that plain old diaper rash cream works best for me. If it gets real bad there’s a product called Marathon liquid skin protectant…. Its pricy but works of you have a large affected area and lasts about 3 days.

    • Yes, diaper rash cream (which usually contains zinc oxide) can help with skin irritation, but it’s often difficult to get an adhesive to stick on top of it. Do you do anything special before applying your wafer?

      Marathon is something I’ve used in the past – it is VERY expensive, but also quite unique in what it can do.

      I will likely do other videos on other ways to help with broken/irritated skin :)

        • So, Marathon comes in this little applicator that’s almost like applying lipstick. The liquid that comes out is spread thinly over the affected areas and when it dries it forms like a plastic layer on the skin to help protect it.

  8. My boyfriends stoma was injured and he had to have his stoma repaired. The surgery change the size of his stoma.
    He has stoma supplies that he no longer can use. Is there a way that he can donate them?

  9. Do you have any home remedies to suggest? I am an RN, with “some” experience w/ stomas. My colleague is currently on a medical mission in Mongolia and has a young man w/ a post op Day 7 stoma. She’s sending me pictures later today, but due to limited supplies, I was wondering if there is any household products one can use to protect the skin. I know corn starch may be available. Thank you!

    • Hi Aimee,

      If no stoma powder is available, you may be able to use cornstarch to help absorb moisture, but there have some people who say this can increase the risk of fungal infections so I would use caution.

      Does your patient not have access to stoma powder? It should be as common as the rest of the appliance – if you can’t order any, see if you can get free samples to use (they can last a long time!).

      • I’m not sure. My colleague FaceTimed with me this morning but it was night time for her. She should be sending me pictures and more info tonight. I know they don’t have much.

        • Also, I don’t know how practical it is, but I would often leave my appliance off for several hours to help sore/weepy areas to heal. I’d hang a plastic bag over my waist to catch anything that came out of my stoma.

          This could help if no powders are available, but again, I don’t know how practical it is for the patient.

          • I was able to FaceTime with my colleague and was shown the stoma. It appears as if it is retracted with some issues around the stoma but I couldn’t get a clear view. There is powder and paste available. There was an appliance/wafer on it yesterday but the bag kept coming off and the water was causing too much pain so they removed it.

            I recommended applying powder and paste around the stoma to protect the intact skin might help. Leaving the stoma covered w a moist gauze.

            I’m also thinking he may need to go back to the hospital to be evaluated. The stoma also may have been infected. It looked bad.

            Thank you!

            • That’s going to make it difficult. I think that if you suspect an infection then he should be seen at the hospital to at least try to get things controlled. Wishing you guys the best of luck!

  10. I have had my ostomy for about 25 years. The ostomy bags and wafers I used for almost 20 years is no longer available because the company stopped making them–I even called the company trying to get them. In the nightmare of finding some that will work I have had trouble with irritated skin. Using corn starch helps with absorbing the moisture. Additionally I use products made for babies diaper rash. But not the ones that have a greasy feeling…. Desitin and butt paste. I apply it while taking a bath or shower and let it set (the flange won’t stick with it left on.) Hopefully this will help someone.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Dixie.

      It’s a shame that you can’t find your previous appliance anymore. I can imagine how frustrating it must be for you.

      I appreciate the tip as well :)

  11. Well….I’ve had my Ileostomy for 46 years….and STILL have raw, excoriated skin right around the stoma. NOTHING will stick to excoriated skin because as soon as you dry the skin, a wetness will reappear in a minute. I’ve tried Barrier Wipes, Powders, well – everything out there, with no luck. I’m somewhat of an “expert” after all these years at putting on appliances – and must have tried every brand out there. Friars Balsam does not heal that RAW skin either. Even if I apply a sticky, mouldable wafer, as soon as I bend down or move around, the carefully applied, snug mouldable seal just “lifts” away from the wettish skin. It only takes an hour or so with an “around the stoma” leak (even if the appliance wafer is still fitmly in place), and the skin is exposed to effluent – and becomes raw again. If anyone comes across anything that will STICK to RAW SKIN while it heals, PLEASE let me know by posting on here. I’ve seen Stoma Nurses, and appliance Reps…..and no-one has a fix for my problem.

    • Hi Teddy,

      I don’t know to what extent your skin has been damaged, but what I’ve done several times is to let my skin breath for prolonged periods of time (hours). That causes the wetness to dry up and begin the healing process. It helps to do this with shorter times between changes (i.e. every other day) so that you slow down any further damage to the skin.

      Sometimes, I will even expose my skin while having stoma powder on it to absorb extra moisture.

      The obvious question would be “what about the output coming from my stoma?”, so for that, I simply keep a kitchen catcher bag hanging off my waist to collect anything that comes out of my stoma.

      Once you’ve done that a few times, your skin should be healthy enough to act as a good substrate for your appliance. However, if this has been ongoing for years (or decades), I would seriously consider looking at other appliances or modifying the time between changes. Going back to your current routine will likely enable this problem to come up again.

      For more suggestions, I would highly recommend that you post questions on the Community Forums: https://www.veganostomy.ca/community/

      Good luck!

    • For those having difficulty with an appliance sticking to deteriorated skin, or to cover challenged skin around the stoma and protect it, have you tried Hollihesive? It is a large square patch that you cut a hole in for your stoma, but it doesn’t act like a barrier ring and respond to the wetness. I used the stoma powder in the holes around my entire stoma which had fully separated the skin from my stoma and was cleared up very quickly. I use Convatec Mio Sensura pouch but used the Hollihesive product with it until it was healed. I also did a Domboro soak around my stoma for 15 minutes with each change which helped the healing tremendously. It is a safe antiseptic powder you mix with water, soak paper towel in it and surround your stoma with it to soak. Worked wonders.
      Good luck!

    • I have read about people using aquacel for wet wounds. It absorbs moisture and may help heal up the site. Also read someone was using for similar adhesive problems with decent results.

  12. Hi
    My mother has a temporary ileostomy since last 5 weeks (Post op Ca rectum) and she is now on chemotherapy. The skin around the stoma just keeps on eroding and changing the wafer is a nightmare for her. We switched to a 2piece bag 4 days back but the skin doesnt seem to be healing as she still finds every movement painful. The barrier ring seems to be really good, but the link provided mentions that it is to be applied to dry, UNBROKEN skin. So isnt it useful in healing the eroded area? Please advice.
    Mom’s so frustrated, she even contemplates stopping the chemo and getting an early reversal done.

    Thanks in advance
    Aishwarya Praveen Kumar

    • Remember, YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO. Instructions (if you followed them) would keep you from using the product for many reasons (that were why you bought it to begin with!!!) If there is alcohol in the product, I would advise common sense, knowing how bad it would sting.
      Otherwise, there’s no harm (compared to what’s happening NOW) in using these products. They won’t stay on as long as they promise, but nothing does.

    • Hi Aishwarya,

      I’m sorry to hear that your mother is having these difficulties.

      Yes, barrier rings are meant to be applied to unbroken skin, but I find that it works on broken skin if there isn’t too much fluid oozing from the skin.

      I would, however, advise that she gets looked at by a stoma nurse, because she needs to find out why her skin is eroding. It could be the appliance, an allergy, a fungal infection, improper appliance fit, etc.

      I wish her all the best.


    • Hi Barb,

      Does it look like it could be bruising? This can happen if she’s wearing a convex appliance or even a thick barrier ring. It’s more common when someone is also using an accessory belt too tight. I would suggest having a stoma nurse have a look just in case.



    • I also wrote about the purple/black ring around my stoma and got no reply.
      So I don’t think there’s ANY help out there. It’s not skin, but more like a shiny “glass” looking piece of Saran Wrap.

  13. After 30 years of wearing the sharp-edged, firm, convex Coloplast wafers the skin around my stoma has developed a “not skin” appearance, as if the dermis is gone and the color is purple/black (as if I’m seeing inside my body), and maybe I am. The rest of the skin looks fine.

    The ostomy nurse didn’t have the knowledge my 30 years have given me so I left without advice. Just an expression of “wtf is that?” from the nurse. I’ve now switched to the hollister convex with ceramide, (I’m hoping for a ciramide miracle).

    I have to change every two days because my stoma “sinks in” when active and oozes under the opening.

    My Insurance supplies five boxes per 90 days. I USE NINE boxes in 90 days. I just ordered cerimide lotion to assist, but there’s no way any wafer will stick to skin that has lotion on it. ANY THOUGHTS??????

    • Dana,
      How about those extended tapes they sell? Like the ones that are supposed to increase wear time or the ones for swimming?

    • Theresa, I thought of that a few months ago and cut up the tape and placed it around the stoma. No improvement. Layers of real skin seems to have disappeared. At first I thought it was like a pressure sore from constant pressure due to wearing convex. My stoma is a perfect length, but it sinks INWARD, pulling the skin with it, when it ejects liquid. If not for that, I’d never leak. Then I figured the ring of skin around the stoma (think 1/2″ and full circle) looked odd and wasn’t skin at all. Shiny, but transparent. Not wet, just not true skin. It’s so slick that nothing wants to truly adhere to it. The doctor and ostomy nurse were totally useless, but in Florida, most of the medical providers are. I went to Amazon and ordered spray glue for around the wafer opening, and a tube of ceramide cream. I figured I’d rub the cream in (although this shiny skin will NOT absorb), layer tape over it, spray glue on the Hollister opening (Convatec caused this after 30 years. So I recently went to a cloth/soft wafer: Hollister) and try not to eat or move for three days. LOL

  14. Hi Eric
    Thanks for being a lifeline to so many of us ostomates. I had my ileostomy in November of 2016, and have been on a whirlwind of a ride. I’ve got things pretty much settled now, except for the barrier ring business. I started with the Ekan and after awhile ended up with raw, irritated skin. After healing that up I switched to Hollister and was doing great. But now when I take off my barrier ring my skin looks shiny pink. It fades after awhile, but never looks like “normal” skin like yours does. Any suggestions?
    Thanks, Teri D
    BTW congrats for being up for all those awards

  15. Thanks for this site and all the videos! I’m a new post-op and my skin is already breaking down with the adhesives from the bags. This has some great tips and tricks. I’ll be watching!

    • Hi Pat,

      Most people have difficulties when they are new ostomates because there are so many changes happening, and the skin isn’t used to all the adhesives and contact with output. Good luck!

  16. Thank you so much for posting this. My son has a new stoma and we have really been having problems with the skin around the stoma. I think we will try this.

  17. This was very informative. Nice calm presentation. I will definitely use the bag on waist as I can never seem to find the best time to make a change. Why do you use two piece appliance? Thank you for your clear and concise demonstration, VO

    • It’s the best tip I can offer for an appliance change – it makes a HUGE difference when you use a bag to catch anything coming out of the stoma – less stress, less mess, and really convenient.

      All the best to you!

  18. I have 3 1/2 year old flush stoma to my skin . With a bit of a belly due to a large hernia. Tried several wafers and and eons and powders. The wafer one piece I use barely last 2 days. Always deal with Excoriation. . I have to deal with Marlen for wafers . They are harder to get. Order ahead of time. Or New Hope is even harder to get.My output is watery to somewhat pasty if I’m lucky. I’m tired of the pain. But my sarcoidosis keeps me from reversing it. Some times it looks inverted. But it hurts my stoma and stomach to always use deep convexity. And it only holds for 2 days. Stoma nurse said I was lucky for 2 days. Gosh there gotta be something better out there. Tired of changing so often. Inconvenient. And allergic to the adhesives on the tape. . Gosh I even have trouble with rectal mucus too. I am a wreck.

    • I’m sorry to hear that, Sharon. You mention Nu-Hope appliances. Have you tried their non-adhesive wafers to see if can help settle some of that excoriation? I don’t know if they’d work with a flush stoma, as I’ve never used them before, but I wonder if looking outside of traditional appliances might offer you a solution.

      Good luck!

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