How to Help Irritated Skin Around the Stoma

Ostomy bag
The skin surrounding the stoma (parastomal skin) and under the wafer can become irritated. To help prevent this irritation, rash and redness, you can follow the following tips from Cheryl Hutton, wound, ostomy and continence (WOC) nurse with CHC Solutions, Inc.

What the Parastomal Skin Should Look Like

The parastomal skin should not be red or feel irritated under the wafer. A properly fitting barrier should adhere to the skin and protect it from stoma drainage.

This protection is important because the condition of parastomal skin can affect the skin barrier’s ability to adhere to the skin. If it does not adhere properly, the skin can become irritated or damaged by the stoma drainage.

Types of Irritation Around the Stoma

  • Fungal yeast infection (Looks shiny, red and itchy)
    • Will require a prescription for an anti-fungal powder
  • Skin irritation from stoma drainage (Looks moist, red and is painful)
    • Can be managed with stoma powder, no-sting skin prep and a properly fitting wafer

Finding What Caused the Irritation

To help stop and prevent further irritation, try to identify why and how it originated. There are a few common causes:

  • Improperly fitting barrier (Barrier opening should be no greater than 1/8 inch larger than the opening of the stoma)
  • Change in the shape of the abdomen where the pouching system is (parastomal hernia, skin divots or rolls)
  • In the case of a stool stoma, pancaking
  • Change in weight

How to Help Relieve the Irritation

To help relieve or lessen any irritation with the parastomal skin, try the following tips:

  • Remeasure the stoma to obtain properly fitting wafers
  • Apply stoma powder to the skin surrounding the stoma along with no sting skin prep prior to adhering the new pouch
  • Talk to your clinician about the possible need for convexity, a precut barrier or barrier rings
  • Try stoma paste as caulking to fill in divots, but do not use paste on irritated skin as it will burn
  • Lastly, get fitted with a new pouching system if you gain or lose between 15-20 pounds.

Finally, always contact your clinician if you are experiencing a problem.

To learn more, visit our ostomy blogs page here.

*Disclaimer: Any health and wellness content presented is for general informational purposes only. Such content is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.