Caring for Your Ostomy at Home

Introduction

Ostomy surgery dramatically affects one’s quality of life. You are faced with adjusting to living with a stoma. There is psychological and social adaptation. The first month after surgery is a significant transition period to improve quality of life. Participating in self-care of the stoma, determining any difficulties, and finding solutions accelerate adapting to living with a stoma. It is essential to get back to normalcy.

Quality of Life Matters

Many factors cause depression. For example, leaking problems caused by poor stoma location, weight changes, lack of education for stoma care. Changing to a different style of clothes or changing the type of work (heavy lifting or long hours) affects the quality of life. In addition, regular sleep patterns are disturbed from post-operative pain or worrying about the pouch leaking. Finally, due to having a stoma, interpersonal, social, and work relationships can be negatively affected by feeling different. As a result, you may find yourself socially distancing from others. If you are having problems with depression, seek out a counselor. A peer support group will also help advise living with a stoma.

Peristomal Skin Care Tips (skin surrounding your stoma)

At the time of changing your ostomy appliance is a good time to assess your stoma and the skin around your stoma (peristomal). A normal stoma color is a pink or red color. In addition, the skin surrounding your stoma should be free of irritation. 

  • You may use soft sturdy paper towels to cleanse and pat dry your skin.
  • Usually, water is sufficient for cleansing. If you need to use soap, select a mild soap without moisturizers. Moisturizing soaps and baby wipes leave a film on the skin and interfere with the adhesive on the skin barrier.
  • It is not recommended to apply lotions, creams, powders, or medications to the peristomal skin for routine skincare.
  • Place soiled paper towels and appliances in a plastic bag. It is okay to throw this in the household trash.
  • If your skin is irritated or open, contact a wound, ostomy, continence (WOC) nurse for assistance.

Ostomy Appliance/Pouch

It is unnecessary to keep the same appliance style from the hospital. There are multiple varieties of ostomy appliances on the market with different features. In addition, everyone has different body shapes, and it is necessary to get the right fit to stop or prevent leaks.

Ostomy Care Tips

  • Change your appliance routinely every three to five days before it starts leaking.
  • If you are changing your appliance more frequently, call a WOC nurse for recommendations for a different appliance.
  • Pick a time during the day when you are less likely to function. Such as in the morning before you eat or drink or at night before going to bed. 
  • Carry an extra set of supplies with you in case a leak develops. Do not leave supplies in your vehicle due to extreme temperatures.

Conclusion

The first few weeks after surgery, you will learn to care for your stoma. It is normal to have emotional stress about the stoma. Self-care and mastering skills will help you adjust to living with it. Having a stoma may limit what you used to do, such as heavy lifting, sitting long hours after rectal surgery, working long hours, or clothing styles. Stoma care and lifestyle changes will become part of a new routine. Therefore, it is essential to get back to normal with some modifications. The people you know will inquire about your illness. It is unnecessary to inform everyone about having a stoma, but you must decide who you will tell. Be open to people closest to you and nothing to the others unless you think there is a reason to disclose the information.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions stated in this blog are exclusively those of the author and do not reflect those of iWound, its affiliates, or partner companies.

 Future Reading And References

Basic Ostomy Skin care. (2020, September 9). Retrieved from WOCN: https://cdn.ymaws.com/member.wocn.org/resource/resmgr/document_library/Basic_Ostomy_Skin_Care.pdf

 Berti-Hearn, Linda MSN, RN, CWOCN; Elliott, Brenda PhD, RN, CNE Colostomy Care, Home Healthcare Now: March/April 2019 – Volume 37 – Issue 2 – p 68-78

doi: 10.1097/NHH.0000000000000735 

 

Colwell, Janice C.; Bain, Kimberly A.; Hansen, Anne Steen; Droste, Werner; Vendelbo, Grethe; James-Reid, Sarah International Consensus Results, Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing: November/December 2019 – Volume 46 – Issue 6 – p 497-504

doi: 10.1097/WON.0000000000000599 

 

Kalayci, Ferzan Msc, RN; Duruk, Nazike PhD, RN Assessment of the Difficulties Experienced By Individuals With Intestinal Stoma, Advances in Skin & Wound Care: January 4, 2022 – Volume – Issue – doi: 10.1097/01.ASW.0000805752.01398.2d 

Ketterer, S. N., Leach, M. J., & Fraser, C. (2021). Factors Associated With Quality of Life Among People Living With a Stoma in Nonmetropolitan Areas. Nursing research, 70(4), 281–288. https://doi.org/10.1097/NNR.0000000000000511

 

Kirkland-Kyhn, Holly PhD, FNP-BC, GNP-BC; Martin, Sanaz MS, RN; Zaratkiewicz, Sunniva PhD, RN, CWCN; Whitmore, Morgan MSN, RN; Young, Heather M. PhD, RN, FAAN Ostomy Care at Home, AJN, American Journal of Nursing: April 2018 – Volume 118 – Issue 4 – p 63-68 doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000532079.49501.ce 

 

Living with an ostomy: FAQS. (2022). Retrieved from UOAA: https://www.ostomy.org/living-with-an-ostomy/

 

Ostomy Skin Care. (2022). Retrieved from UOAA: https://www.ostomy.org/ostomy-skin-care/

Yan, Ming-hui BN, RN; Lv, Lin MSN, RN; Zheng, Mei-chun BN, RN; Jin, Ying BN, RN; Zhang, Jun-e PhD, RN Quality of Life and Its Influencing Factors Among Chinese Patients With Permanent Colostomy in the Early Postoperative Stage, Cancer Nursing: 1/2 2022 – Volume 45 – Issue 1 – p E153-E161 doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000893 

 

 

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