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

saving skin around stoma
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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.

Video

https://youtu.be/kVbB7pMFoYg

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.

http://youtu.be/7iQQ_BcN1Tg
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?
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42 thoughts on “Healing the Skin around the Stoma – OSTOMY TIPS (w/ Video)

  1. 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!

  2. 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 :)

  3. 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!
      Rachelle

  4. 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.

      Eric

    • 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.

      Regards,

      Eric

    • 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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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