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If you're living with an ostomy (or you're a caregiver for someone with an ostomy), you might be thinking, "why all this talk about skin?"
Turns out, one of the most important elements of regaining and maintaining a healthy, comfortable lifestyle after ostomy surgery is about taking good care of the skin around the stoma.
The area of skin around the stoma is called peristomal skin.
Although we know healthy peristomal skin is essential to overall health and quality of life, the majority of those with a stoma experience a problem with peristomal skin at some point in their lives.
Because irritation is so common, many people have come to believe that skin problems are just a normal part of living with a stoma. At Hollister Ostomy Care, we disagree. We believe that peristomal skin deserves better, and you don't have to accept the pain and problems that can come with a peristomal skin complication.
Some studies report up to 75% of people with an ostomy1 experience peristomal skin irritation. This is also known as a peristomal skin complication, or a PSC.
The reality is, peristomal skin should be intact without irritation, rash, or redness. The skin around your stoma should look just like the skin on the other side of your abdomen, or anywhere else on your body.
Healthy Peristomal Skin
The skin around the stoma should be intact without irritation, rash, or redness. A properly fitting skin barrier protects the skin from being irritated or damaged by the stoma drainage. The right formulation of ingredients in your skin barrier helps maintain healthy skin from the start.
Damaged Peristomal Skin
If the skin around your stoma is damaged, it will look irritated and feel sore. If the opening on your pouching system is too large or does not adhere well, the drainage from the stoma can damage the skin.
Damaged Peristomal Skin
Irritated skin that develops under the skin barrier can occur for a variety of reasons. Your skin may have become damaged from incorrect or frequent removal. The skin may be itchy, blistered, or open and weeping. This problem can develop at any time even if you have worn the same type of product for months or years.
If you experience red, broken, or moist skin around the stoma, contact your WOC/ET nurse or healthcare professional. Not sure who to call? Our Hollister Secure Start services team can help point you in the right direction: 1.888.808.7456.
1. Rapp CG, L Richbourg, JM Thorne. Difficulties Experienced by the Ostomate After Hospital Discharge. JWOCN. 2007;34(1):70-79
The condition of skin around the stoma (known as the peristomal skin) greatly affects how well a skin barrier can adhere to the abdomen, which impacts comfort and a sense of confidence.
Skin that is exposed to leakage from the stoma is at significant risk for a complication. And, if the barrier is changed too frequently, this can also lead to injury to the skin.
Both of these root causes diminish the ability of the skin barrier to work properly. When a Peristomal Skin Complication (PSC) has occurred, the skin continues to be at risk for further damage and a vicious cycle can result.
This is why a properly fitting skin barrier and the right barrier formulation is so important — as it helps protect the skin from being irritated by stoma drainage.
McNichol, L., Lund, C., Rosen, T., Gray, M., Medical Adhesives and Patient Safety: State of Science JWOCN 2013 Vol. 40., No 4. Page 365-390
Life after ostomy surgery can feel overwhelming and complicated. Learning how to care for your stoma and adjusting to your new normal takes time. Don't rush it, and remember you're not alone.
One of the most important things to pay attention to is the skin around your stoma. That skin should be free of irritation, and as healthy as the skin anywhere else on your body. Research suggests that even mild skin complications have a negative impact on a person's sense of well/being.1 The fear of leakage, and negative quality of life that can result, may cause a person to isolate themselves and refrain from participating in activities they once enjoyed.
If you experience redness, irritation, or discomfort, be sure to seek the assistance of a WOC/ET nurse.
Click here to learn more about caring for the skin around your stoma.
Healthcare Professionals: Get the latest research and details on the impact of Peristomal Skin Complications (PSC) from your Hollister Ostomy Care sales representative.
Persons living with an ostomy: If you experience redness, irritation, or discomfort, be sure to seek the assistance of a WOC/ET nurse. Click here to learn more about caring for the skin around your stoma.
Need help finding a WOC/ET nurse? Call Hollister Secure Start services at 1.888.808.7456 and our team can help you.
1. Bell CM et al. Medical Decision Making 2001; 21:288-94.
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