How is the skin around your stoma? Does it look like the skin on the rest of your body? It certainly should, and yet around 73% of people with a stoma experience skin problems1. There are many reasons why you can get sore and irritated skin around your stoma. It can be something as simple as not changing the bag often enough.
Jo had her ileostomy created more than 25 years ago and suffered with sore skin for many years. Jo remembered “I had always had sensitive skin. When I first had my stoma I didn’t change my bag regularly enough and that was what caused me problems, although I didn’t realise it at the time.”
We asked Lynne Hemming, Specialist Nurse with the Amcare Group to explain how this can happen. She tells us “If bags are left on too long output from the stoma can seep underneath and sit between the skin and the adhesive, which can cause soreness. When changing the bag, users should look at the underside of the baseplate to see if there is output on it. If so, it might be worth changing your bag more often to avoid exposing your skin to your output.”
In 2010, Jo’s sensitive skin flared up, “It was bright red, hot, weeping and very painful, not the ideal skin for sticking a bag to. I found myself changing the bag multiple times in a day as I found they simply would not stick for long.”
This can be a common side effect of sore skin. Research also found that pouch leakage can cause discomfort and distress and the fear of this happening can profoundly affect daily life, activities, and social life1.
“It really got me down and at its worst it was debilitating. I couldn’t go out of the house as I didn’t have confidence that the bag would stay on, and at night I kept waking up worried I would leak” said Jo.
“My breakthrough moment came when I discovered a powder that helps absorb moisture while skin heals. It was recommended by a nurse I met at an event I attended. It made such a difference, my bags now stick whilst the skin heals under the baseplate.”
If you feel powders could help you, try Orahesive® powder from ConvaTec.
Jo looked at a number of ways to improve the way she manages her condition effectively. She says “to be in control I realised I needed an effective routine. I started changing my bag every fourth day and now stick to that fairly rigorously unless it suits me to change a day earlier, but I rarely leave my bag on for longer than that. The result has been rare occurrences of sore, irritated skin so I can get on with my life with confidence.”
As everyone is an individual there are no set specific guidelines for how often you should change your bag, everyone is different, but if you are experiencing sore skin you may need to review your stoma care routine. If you can’t see your usual stoma care nurse, Amcare Group customers and me+™ members can request a visit or a call from one of our specialist stoma care nurses on 0800 085 2516 (UK) or 1800 818 1516 (RoI)
Alternatively, if you would like to review the products you use or try Orahesive® powder for yourself, call one of our friendly Product Specialists on call 0800 834 822 for all UK enquiries or 1800 721 721 for all Republic of Ireland enquiries.
1Smith AJ et al (2002) Multidisciplinary care of skin problems in stoma patients. British Journal of Nursing; 11: 5, 324-330.