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.


Ostomy care: Healing the Skin around the Stoma
Watch this video on YouTube.
By playing the above video you agree to YouTube's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

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.

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.

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

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.

How to Change Your Ostomy Bag: Ostomy Care Tips
Watch this video on YouTube.
By playing the above video you agree to YouTube's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Caution: Before you change your routine, you should check with your stoma nurse first, unless you’re willing to experiment on your own.

INFO: If you’re interested in the “crusting technique” for healing peristomal skin, check out THIS article.

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

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

  1. I have to agree with the hair dryer tip. Been part of my changing routine from the start. Just be careful not to over heat. (Yes bald men do use hair dryers 😂)

  2. My husband has had an ileostomy since 1995(he was 26 yrs old). Like you he has tried numerous treatments for skin breakdown. Currently he is crusting around the stoma even when there’s no breakdown. He also uses coloplast strip paste. It is very similar to the barrier ring but with the strip paste you can control the thickness that you use. Another thing he does that helps with wafer adherence, he uses a hair dryer to heat his skin where the wafer will be. Then applies the wafer and uses the hair dryer to heat the wafer which helps it mold it to his body. I hope this helps.

  3. Initially I had issues with the sutures not. healing properly. Tried stoma powders, barrier ring, changing the skin barrier every day. Not happy. What worked was spending time with no skin barrier, i could do this because i was home all day every day and my output was not huge and fairly easy to anticipate.
    The game changer for me was the tip i found on this site to heat the “glue” on the skin barrier with a hairdrier for about 30:seconds. Worked like a charm, I change every 3rd day and no leaks even when I have slight bouts of diarrhea.
    Something I have noticed, four months on from surgery, is that my initially round stoma is settling in to an oval shape.

  4. When I first got my stoma in July 2019, it was agony! Sensitive skin, frequent leaks. My ostomy is flush so there’s no stoma sticking up to mold barrier around. One really gruelling day, I had to change my wafer 7 times! My skin was raw! I wanted to die; thinking about spending the next 20+ years of my life like that was too much! They had me using the powder, liquid, barrier rings, molding strips, etc. But nothing helped. Then one day I realized that the second the powder touched my skin, the burning started. Applying the liquid on top of that compounded the problem. I then realized that ALL of the products they had me try caused itching. I decided to try it one time with nothing but the wafer and barrier ring. What a relief! Still some itching but much more tolerable. At that time, I was changing wafers every other day. I also realized that the tap around the wafer was irritating my skin, too. Then I discovered the 4″ square barriers. I put that on first, then the barrier ring, wafer, and pouch. I trim the tape so it doesn’t extend beyond the square barrier. It took several tries before I found one that stuck well to my skin and didn’t burn.

    I can now go 3-5 days without changing! Time depends on how active I am and how much bending I do.

    I also apply lidocaine cream to skin before applying appliance. I spread it on, let sit a few minutes, then carefully clean skin with cool water. I agree with those who recommend airing the skin for as long as possible when changing; it really helps, though I only do it for up to 30 min.

    • Happy you found a solution!
      I went through much the same experimentation when I got my stoma in 2915. 
      In the end, what works for me is a convex wafer for my flush stoma, and a barrier film wipe over all the skin the wafer will stick to.
      I go 5 days between changes, with no skin irritation.

    • I had a similar experience. With no Stoma Nurses available in my area a one hour car drive with a seat belt pressing on my pouch & raw skin & a car ride was not an option.
      I figured out a lot of stuff on my own & I never even considered the internet for help….lol, until I stumbled on one of Erics videos!  Computers were my hubbies thing, not mine! 
      I did discover that the Stoma Powder had a grainy-ness to it when I rubbed it between my fingers. I felt it was doing more harm then good & caused a burning itchy feeling on my raw skin that I do not miss since I stopped using it. Now, I just use adhesive remover spray & wipes, wash after with water only,  pat & air dry for a few min. & skin barrier spray & the wafer on my skin. If I use it now, I never use it within an inch of the stoma because I’m  pretty sure it was lending to my then ever so frequent leaks. As though it sucked moisture beneath the wafer.  I  only use the wipes for the adhesive remover because I feel even the material the wipes are made of caused skin issues for me.  The difference was amazing. I figure I had an allergy  to these products & with my sensitive skin & eczema issues, I just didn’t need anything else in the way of my leading as normal a life as I have gained with my Ostomy. 

    • Hi Robert. I’m sorry to hear about your itchy stoma. There would be several reasons for this, but I do suggest speaking with a stoma nurse to help troubleshoot. If it’s a fungal/bacterial cause then it will need to be treated. Sometimes the itchiness can come from the wafer being on too long, hair growing under the wafer, leaks, or sensitive skin.

      Best of luck.


Leave a comment. (Your email will not be published)