Maintaining Healthy Skin with Fit and Formulation

Avoiding peristomal skin problems starts with a simple equation: Fit + Formulation. Learn more about this fundamental concept for keeping the skin around your stoma healthy.   

5 Time Saving Skin Care Tips

Learn the key to healthy peristomal skin.

By Colleen Drolshagen, WOC Nurse Clinical Researcher, Hollister Incorporated

There is a simple, yet powerful equation to help keep the skin around your stoma healthy: FIT + FORMULATION = HEALTHY PERISTOMAL SKIN. Put another way, a properly fitting skin barrier and the right skin barrier formulation help protect the skin from being irritated by stoma drainage.

Why fit and formulation are both important to healthy peristomal skin

This equation simply means that skin barriers need to fit well around the stoma and the ingredients in those skin barriers (the formulation) need to support healthy skin. The combination of a well-fitting pouching system with the best barrier properties for your body help you focus on living your life, with less worry about leaks or skin discomfort.

Finding the right fit

It’s critical to get a good seal around the stoma to help prevent leakage and promote comfort. Every stoma is different in size and shape. Your stoma may get smaller during the first six weeks after surgery, so it's good to measure it frequently. Measure your stoma until it stops changing and remeasure if you are having problems or if you experience weight loss or gain. To choose the correct size skin barrier opening, pick one that fits where the skin and stoma meet. The skin barrier opening should be the size of the stoma for a good fit.

When choosing a skin barrier, you’ll notice there are several different kinds to choose from. After your ostomy procedure, your stoma care nurse can help you ensure the right fit. 

Finding the right formulation

The customized skin barrier ingredients responsible for adhesion, erosion resistance and absorption must be carefully formulated to create an environment where healthy skin can thrive.

Choosing a skin barrier with the right formulation of ingredients is as important as fit in ensuring healthy peristomal skin (skin around your stoma). For example, in one study,* people who used skin barriers with ceramide had a meaningful reduction in peristomal skin complications (PSCs). Ceramide is naturally occurring lipid in the skin that protects against dryness. Again, your stoma care nurse can help you find a skin barrier with a formulation proven to support healthy skin. 

Colleen Drolshagen is a board certified wound, ostomy and continence (WOC) nurse with over 35 years of experience caring for individuals with these specific needs. Colleen recently left clinical practice and is currently working as a WOC Nurse Clinical Researcher at Hollister Incorporated. This transition has allowed her to continue her passion to assist individuals with ostomy and continence needs but now on a global level.


*Colwell JC, Pittman J, Raizman R, Salvadalena G. A Randomized Controlled Trial Determining Variances in Ostomy Skin Conditions and the Economic Impact. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs, 2018;45(1):37-42.