Common Ostomy Issues & Possible Solutions

Common Ostomy Issues & Possible Solutions

Having an ostomy comes with many challenges. Many of which include those that are part of a normal daily routine. We have compiled a list of some of the most common ostomy issues and challenges that come with having a stoma.

Skin Irritation Surrounding the Stoma

The skin surrounding the stoma (peristomal skin) post surgery is often irritated and painful. Peristomal skin encompasses a large portion of where the ostomy wafer adheres to. There are several reasons why peristomal skin may become sore, red and irritated. Improper removal, picking, moisture will lead to blisters, itchiness, and weeping. When the stoma is new, patients will need to find a pouching system that has the correct sized opening. A poor fitting pouch will have an opening too large allowing waste fluids to come in contact with the skin and not drain properly. This sometimes leads to patients and professionals needing to frequently remove and adjust the ostomy pouch. In many cases the adhesives, creams, and paste can lead to skin irritation. While trial and error is often the only way to find the right formula, items like ostomy belts, gentle adhesives, and a proper fitting pouch will save you from discomfort. It is also recommended to have a WOC Nurse review your pouching technique.

Bowel Movement Problems with an Ostomy

After an ostomy operation a patient will often experience costipation or loose stool due to pharmaceutical drugs and stress. A WOC Nurse will advise on how to construct a good diet plan. Staying hydrated, keeping a high fiber diet, and being aware of what foods cause gas or blockage.

Infections of the Peristomal Skin

A moist, warm, and soiled environment is perfect for colonizing bacteria. The bacteria may present itself as blistered or boiled skin, irritation, and discoloration. The bowel fluids, pouch wafer, and surrounding adhesives require proper cleaning and care. Being sure to keep the area dry and free of bacteria is essential to keeping skin healthy.

Two common peristomal infections are candidiasis and folliculitis.

Peristomal Candidiasis – An overgrowth of the fungus Candida Albicans surrounding a fecal or urinary diversion.  

Folliculitis – This is inflammation and/or infection of superficial hair follicles, resulting in isolated lesions or discoloration right at the follicle site.

A WOC Nurse or your Doctor may prescribe an antifungal powder and evaluate your pouching method and the products used during time of cleaning or changing your pouch.

Ostomy Leakage

Ostomy leaks may happen for several reasons. The fit of the pouch around the stoma, if there are any creases in the adhesive surface, the frequency of changing, the cleanliness of the area, and the preparation of the skin before putting it on your skin. Proper cleaning and drying of the area is essential. The barrier seal needs to be placed on a clean, even surface. This may require you adjusting the skin around the stoma in order to assure that the adhesive makes contact with the skin with no creases or folds. The correct fitting barrier is also important to ensure that there are no leaks. A correct fitting barrier leaves no exposed skin between the stoma and the opening of the barrier. Also, your choice of clothing may cause a leak. Looser clothing may decrease friction and pulling that could cause the edges of the barrier to come loose. If you are an active person, it is a good idea to empty or change your pouch whenever possible. It’s also important to be sure you are using the best product for you. There are several different products, so if the barrier leaks, it may be time to try a new barrier. Another option would be to apply a secondary adhesive. Many turn to Hy-Tape to add a second layer of protection from leakage. Hy-Tape is latex free, waterproof, and is thin and conforming making it easy to create a seal around the barrier. It is a great solution for those who have sensitive skin or those who have irritation surrounding the stoma. Hy-Tape holds firm, but releases gently without becoming stickier as body temperatures rise leaving the skin intact and healthy thank to the zinc oxide based adhesive. 

If you have ostomy issues and would you like to learn more about Hy-Tape or try it yourself? Please use the links below to navigate our site. If you have any questions or would like to talk to our of our team, please call 1-800-248-0101. If you would like to read more frequently asked questions about ostomy issues, check out the FAQ area on Ostomy.com.