Top 5 Ostomy Concerns
You may have questions about your ostomy, how to care for your stoma, and how to keep living the life you want to live – but you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Hollister Secure Start services offer free support for people living with an ostomy, regardless of the brand of products used. Below are five common questions we are asked from people in the ostomy community like you.
I’m having leakage under my pouching system.
To help solve the issue, we would ask several questions including the current pouching system being used, and the frequency of it being changed. Other questions that would assist us in problem solving might be—How are you preparing your skin before putting on your pouch? If the products are not being properly applied, it could cause adherence issues. Are you cleaning out your pouch or do you put anything in it? Most important, where is the leakage occurring? If it’s always in the same area, evaluate the area for any creases or uneven surfaces such as scar tissue, incisions, or your belly button that may cause an uneven surface under the barrier. If this is the cause, you might try a barrier ring as a filler to even out the surface area. However, make sure that the stoma size is correct in the barrier. You’ll know it’s a correct fit when the barrier fits where the skin and the stoma meet. There should be no skin exposed between the stoma and the opening of the barrier.
My skin is irritated and weepy.
This can be a problem for many people with an ostomy. A person should not have skin breakdown, open wounds, or a rash under the barrier. Where exactly is the skin breaking down? How long has it been going on? Is there a situation that may have led to this irritation, such as leakage or was your barrier removed too quickly? What product are you using to prepare your skin for the barrier? Try using stoma powder to absorb moisture from broken skin around the stoma, which may help allow the skin barrier to get better adherence. The cause of the skin irritation needs to be addressed in order to find solutions.
I am noticing an odor and I’m concerned others will too.
There can be an odor associated with emptying your pouch versus odor caused by leakage and we need to determine which one you are experiencing. A lubricating deodorant is a great choice for neutralizing the odor of the stool when the pouch is emptied. You might also consider a pouch that has a filter, which neutralizes odor caused by gas in the pouch. Make sure that no stool drainage gets on the outside of your closure system. If neither of these situations is the issue your barrier might be starting to lift off the skin, which can allow odor to escape and can be the beginning of a leakage.
My pouching system is not staying on. What can I do?
It may be a problem with your barrier seal. Make sure you have one that you can count on. Everybody is different when it comes to wear time. A good rule of thumb is to determine how many days you can rely on the product to provide a secure seal without experiencing leakage. Monitor the back of the barrier when you change the pouching system. If you see stool or urine from the stoma that has leaked under the barrier, it’s a sign that the barrier seal is compromised and the barrier can begin to lose adherence to the skin. If this occurs then the barrier should be changed. It’s important to change your product on a routine basis, which can be determined by the lack of stoma drainage under the barrier as well as the condition of your skin.
It is important that my pouching system is discreet. What can you recommend?
When a pouch fills with gas or drainage it will start to balloon out and might show under clothing. A pouch with a filter can help release the gas. Also consider emptying your pouch when it’s a third to a half full. When a pouch is full it could cause weightiness on the barrier, which might lead to leakage. When it comes to discretion, it’s important that you find the right pouching system for your body. Hollister offers both one- and two-piece systems. For a person with a colostomy or ileostomy, there are drainable and closed-end pouches in various lengths and options of transparent, ultra-clear and beige pouch films. Those with a urostomy can also choose from pouches with transparent, ultra-clear or beige film depending on the product they are using.
As always, it’s important to follow up with your healthcare professional or Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurse for clinical or medical advice.
Have a concern that wasn’t mentioned here?
Check out the helpful tips from Hollister Incorporated, Routine Care of Your Ostomy or go to Hollister.com and navigate to the Ostomy Care Resources to find accessory sheets, helpful brochures and videos.
Need someone to talk to?
Hollister Secure Start services is here to help! Call us today at 1.888.808.7456.
Nothing contained herein should be considered medical advice. Medical advice can only be provided by an individual’s personal doctor or medical professional.
Editor’s note: This educational article is from one of our digital sponsors, Hollister Incorporated. Sponsor support along with donations from readers like you help to maintain our website and the free trusted resources of UOAA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Thanks for this article. Seeing answers to concerns is important to me. I have a question: I want to shower every day, but it doesn’t help with the appliance staying on in place. I just can’t change my ostomy appliance every day. I purchased vinyl underwear for women, but water still gets in the underwear. What do other people do? What do you suggest? This is one problem that I have not been able to solve.
I use Stretch and Seal to cover my bag. It works pretty well. May get a little seepage of water but pretty good overall.
I don’t have to shower everyday, I can go a week. I spit bath and put on clean underwear everyday. I just can’t change out my appliance every day or every other day. I think you have to make concessions with this ostomy business. I work hard to keep my skin healthy and the odors at bay. I don’t have to make anyone happy but me. I also think my barrier is working very well. I tried lots of samples. Good luck with your situation. You are not alone!
To both Michele and Claudia,
There’s no need to wear vinyl underwear to keep your pouch dry or to go a whole week without showering. Simply shower with your pouch on and let it get wet. Ostomy pouches are made to be watertight. Just as a pouch can hold urine or liquid stool inside it without leaking, it will stay intact when it gets wet on the outside. So, shower and let your pouch get wet, and it will be fine.
A couple of minor caveats about this: Some pouches have cloth covers that tend to stay wet for a while, so you’ll probably want to pat it dry after showering before dressing. Also, some pouches with filters come with stickers that you’re supposed to place over the filter when showering. This is intended to keep the filter from getting clogged when water enters the filter. But, even with this kind of pouch, nothing terrible happens if you forget to apply the sticker.