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

saving skin around stoma

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.
QUESTION: What techniques have you tried to heal up your skin?

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

    • 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.



  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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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