Learn how to spot peristomal skin irritation and damage.
After your ostomy surgery, your healthcare team likely taught you how to care for your peristomal skin and what it should look like when it is healthy. Ideally, it should be intact without irritation, rash, or redness. The skin around your stoma should look just like the skin on the other side of your abdomen, or anywhere else on your body, free of redness, irritation, or damage. Healthy skin should be the rule, not the exception.
However, if your peristomal skin is irritated or damaged, there may be some signs of a peristomal skin complication (PSC), such as:
- Discomfort, itching, soreness, or even pain around the stoma
- Recurrent leakage under your pouching system or skin barrier
- Excessive bleeding of your stoma – it’s normal for your stoma to slightly bleed after you wash it, but the bleeding should resolve quickly
- A bulge in the skin around your stoma
- Skin color changes from normal pink or red to pale, bluish purple, or black
- A rash around the stoma that is red, or red with bumps – this may be due to a skin infection or sensitivity, or even leakage
- Wart-like, pimple-like or blister-like bumps under the skin barrier – this type of irritation can happen any time, even if you’ve used the same product for months or years
- Any type of wound or scratch on the peristomal skin
Peristomal Skin Complications — Potential causes and what to do
Irritated and damaged peristomal skin can occur for a variety of reasons. It can be caused by anything from a poor-fitting pouching system, to frequent skin barrier changes, to an allergic reaction to anything that contacts the skin, such as soaps or products used to prepare the peristomal skin. Some studies report up to 75 percent of people with an ostomy experience a PSC.* Although it is a common issue, it should not be ignored.
If you experience any signs of a PSC, contact your stoma care nurse. You should work with your healthcare team to determine the exact cause and the appropriate solution.
For more information on maintaining healthy skin and other topics, click here to visit the Hollister Ostomy Learning Center.
* Rapp CG, L Richbourg, JM Thorne. Difficulties Experienced by the Ostomate After Hospital Discharge. JWOCN. 2007;34(1):70-79.
The information provided herein is not medical advice and is not intended to substitute for the advice of your personal physician or other healthcare provider. This information should not be used to seek help in a medical emergency. If you experience a medical emergency, seek medical treatment in person immediately.
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