Peristomal Skin Hygiene: Ways to Avoid Stoma Skin Infection

Skin health is vital in regaining and keeping a healthy, comfortable lifestyle after ostomy surgery. The condition of the skin around the stoma can also make ostomy aftercare easier or cause complications that may affect your quality of life. Proper skincare is a must so you can avoid getting a stoma skin infection and maintain the peristomal skin’s optimum health. Read on to learn more about peristomal skin and the best ways of caring for it. 

Understanding the peristomal skin

The peristomal skin is the skin surrounding the stoma—the opening in the abdomen created after undergoing urostomy, colostomy, or ileostomy surgery. This area is delicate and requires a special skin care regimen to keep it clean. Knowing when and how to properly change the ostomy pouch can help you steer clear of potential peristomal skin complications (PSCs). 

PSCs can cause significant issues, such as:

  • Additional Healthcare Costs
  • Irritation, Itching, and Overall Discomfort
  • Leakage
  • Pain
  • Unpleasant Odors

Being familiar with what health peristomal skin looks like can help in identifying problems as soon as they arise. The peristomal skin often appears just like the skin on the rest of your abdomen. It should be smooth, clean, and dry; there should also be no redness or irritation, and it shouldn’t be discolored. In addition, it should be clear of lesions of any kind.

There are many things you can do to keep your peristomal skin clean and healthy which can prevent any complications.

Best ways to keep your peristomal skin clean to avoid stoma skin infection

There is no better way to keep your peristomal skin at its best than by regularly and properly cleaning it. Due to the sensitivity of this area, using the right accessories and products can help. You can lower your risk of getting a stoma skin infection by following these practical skin care tips.

Use the right products

Refrain from using products that have excessive amounts of residue, moisturizers, and oils because they can weaken the adhesion when attaching your pouching system to your skin. Some soaps can also cause skin barriers to deteriorate, thus may increase your risk for leaks. Avoiding soaps with a strong fragrance is advisable to prevent skin irritation. 

Shower with your pouch on

You can always bathe with your pouch on or off, but it’s recommended to keep the pouch on, in order to prevent waste leakage. In addition, don’t hold back when cleaning the area—soap and water will not flow into your stoma and can’t cause any damage. 

Just use water

Some products can cause irritation or adhesion problems. This is the reason that many ostomates choose to use only water to clean their peristomal skin. Cleaning your peristomal skin with water is acceptable and can be sufficient when done properly. 

To completely clean the area, remove any adhesion residue before you wash. Stubborn adhesion residue can be removed using adhesive tape remover pads. Rinse after use. After washing with water, wait until the area is completely dry before putting on a new skin barrier and reattaching your pouching system. Just make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly before and after contact to avoid cross-contamination of the stoma and the peristomal skin.

Remember that less is more

When caring for the peristomal skin, always remember that less is better. Avoid skincare lotions, powders, baby wipes, creams, isopropyl alcohol, steroidal medications, or ointments, as well as any other product that has not been approved for use by ostomates. If you want to use soap, always choose mild variants approved for ostomies or products specifically made for the peristomal skin. 

Find the right skincare accessories

While you can always stick to a very basic skincare routine, some accessories can help lessen irritation and enhance adhesion, allowing you to keep the peristomal skin clean. There are also products available to help minimize foul smells and manage odor. Ask your doctor about their recommended products and test them at home to learn what works best for you. 

If the product you are using causes irritation or a reaction, stop using it immediately. Some ostomy supplies that can complement your current pouching system include:

Ostomy belt

For extra adhesion support that prevents you from regularly reattaching your pouch, consider using an ostomy belt. Find a snug fit that’s never too tight. Make sure to choose a comfortable and breathable type.

Barrier strips

Patients dealing with leakage or adhesion issues can use a skin-friendly, water-resistant type of barrier strip. These are composed of a hydrocolloid material that helps keep your barrier secure.

Stoma powder

For people with sensitive, raw, or moist skin, applying stoma powder will help ease dampness and skin irritations.

Ostomy wipes

Certain kinds of ostomy wipes provide relief for adhesive-related irritations.

  • Barrier wipes – This type of ostomy wipe can provide a thin barrier of film on the skin, which protects skin from irritation due to adhesives.
  • Adhesive removers – These wipes work by eliminating sticky, irritating build-up with an alcohol-free formula.

Change the pouching system at the right frequency

Changing your pouching system properly and on time is vital in maintaining clean peristomal skin. If the pouch gets too full, it can cause leaks that irritate the skin surrounding it. Consult with your physician about the frequency in which you need to change your pouch.

Stoma skin infection and damage to look out for

Poor peristomal skincare hygiene contributes to skin irritation, damage, or infection. Get familiarized with some of the potential problems of peristomal skin, and consult your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Folliculitis – This skin condition results in tiny, red, painful bumps due to infection of the hair follicles near your stoma. Avoid shaving your peristomal skin to reduce folliculitis from developing.
  • Irritant Contact Dermatitis – The peristomal skin will appear red, weepy, and may come with pain or bleeding. This type of dermatitis is caused by an irritant coming in contact with your skin.
  • Contact Dermatitis or Allergic Dermatitis – This type of dermatitis appears as red, irritated skin and is caused by extreme contact or an allergic reaction to the products used.
  • Fungal Infection – A fungal infection can start as a red rash and progress when spread. It’s accompanied by itching and burning.
  • Mechanical Irritation – The symptoms of mechanical irritation are somewhat the same as irritant contact dermatitis. However, this irritation is caused by removing your skin barrier improperly, using too much force, or washing too vigorously.

Always keep your peristomal skin clean to avoid serious skin complications and problems. Contact your doctor for more details regarding treatment and future prevention if you experience any of the conditions listed above or observe any other issues relating to your peristomal skin.

Get the support you need for your ostomy

If you’re unsure whether your stoma or peristomal skin is healthy, reach out to your doctor or ostomy nurse. Using the right ostomy supplies and effectively cleaning your peristomal skin are the best ways to improve your skin, avoid leaks, and promote a healthy stoma. When choosing supplies for your ostomy, always go for high-quality, medical-grade products. Contact Better Health to learn more about how you can maintain your peristomal skin’s optimal health. Visit or call 415-475-8444 today.

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