After a colostomy or ileostomy, the way your body handles waste will be changed radically. You will need to begin using a stoma, which is an opening in the belly area through which waste will pass and be collected in a special pouch. This pouch will need to be emptied frequently and all devices attached to the stoma cleaned regularly.
To take care of and maintain a healthy stoma and the area around it, the most important thing to note is that the waste coming from your stoma can be extremely irritating to your skin. This is why it is very important to use the correct size of the pouch. Before attaching the pouch, wash your skin with warm water. Make sure to shave the hair around the stoma and avoid to use of oil-based lotions, as oil and hair can compromise the seal and cause the pouch to leak. Your doctor can give you detailed instructions about how to shave without harming your stoma. The stoma itself is extremely sensitive and needs to be carefully cleaned. A small amount of bleeding is very normal when cleaning the stoma.
A common issue that occurs is when the adhesive, skin barrier, or pouch damages the skin beneath. This will be characterized by redness, soreness, and itching. Your doctor will be able to prescribe a medication to help solve these issues and will help you find ways to manage the problem in the future.
Contact your doctor immediately if there are changes in the way your stoma feels, looks, or smells. Smelly discharge from your stoma, especially when accompanied by fever, redness, and pain, can indicate a serious infection. Also take note of any burning, redness, or swelling of the skin near the stoma. These symptoms can indicate an issue with the stoma seal or infection of the skin around your stoma. Other symptoms, like excessive bleeding, dehydration, leaking, or change in the amount or type of waste in the pouch merit a visit to the doctor.