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Itchy skin around the stoma , or peristomal skin, may be a frequent problem, but shouldn’t be considered normal. Learn about common causes of peristomal itching and what you can do about it.
Itchy peristomal skin, a condition known as pruritus, can be chronic and difficult to treat. Some people experience itching even with healthy looking skin. Nevertheless, there’s plenty you can do to help prevent or deal with this common problem.
Understanding peristomal itching
To better understand peristomal itching, we surveyed stoma care nurses and their patients. The goal was to compare their experiences with this issue. The results were somewhat surprising:
There are many potential causes of peristomal itching, however, two conditions known to cause it are candidiasis (a fungal skin infection) and dermatitis.
Candidiasis is a fungal skin infection that is known to cause severe itching. Candidiasis can usually happen when the peristomal skin is warm and moist. It can also be a result of stoma fluid leakage under the barrier or some medications such as an antibiotic.
Here are some tips for avoiding candidiasis:
Dermatitis, also known as irritant dermatitis, may be caused by an irritant to the skin – such as those in soaps, lotions, and other products. Or it can originate from your skin being exposed to your stomal output due to leakage. Allergic dermatitis is caused by a reaction to a specific irritant or allergen.
Here are some prevention tips:
Other causes of peristomal itching
There may be other causes of peristomal itching, some of which don’t result in visible signs of skin damage. While leakage remains a top contributor to itching, our survey shows that heat and humidity can contribute to itching as well. Also, dryness is a common cause of itchy skin around the stoma with otherwise healthy looking skin. If you experience itching, a simple and easy first step is to remove and replace your pouch – nearly 79 percent of our survey respondents said this reduced the itchiness.
If you have consistent peristomal skin itching, think you may have candidiasis or a form of dermatitis, or suspect you have any other peristomal skin complication, contact your stoma care nurse.
*Based on a survey of 164 patients. Consumer Survey of Pruritus, 2016 Hollister data on file.
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