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Cleaning of the Ostomy Appliance and The Skin Around Your Stoma

Tim Robert posted this on May 12, 2020

Initially, it dreaded me to think of how an ostomate manages to lead a normal life! From wearing the appliance correctly to removing it, irrigating the pouch, taking care of the skin around the stoma – the list goes on and on...

Cleansing, disinfecting, and keeping appliances clean are the crucial tasks of ostomy candidates. The primary function of ostomy cleansers is not only to clean but also to deodorize the pouch, skin barrier, wafer, flanges, and other ostomy accessories apart from the pouch.

You cannot just go for any regular cleaning product as far as maintenance of your ostomy products is concerned. They not only hamper the quality and longevity of the ostomy items but also affect the skin around the stoma! To keep the stoma and the surrounding skin protected as well as make your pouch long-lasting, dedicated ostomy appliance cleaners are the best choice!

Cleaning the stoma precedes appliance cleaning. So, how do you clean the skin around your stoma?

I have seen my friend getting an ostomy. The first time he walked out of the hospital (after having thoroughly learned all about appliance changes and cleaning), he was nervous about his stoma! Stoma cleaning may sound perplexing in the beginning but this too becomes a part of your daily life. The WOCN (Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses’ Society) has laid down some important recommendations (or guidelines one might say) to help ostomates through it.

• Warm water and washcloth are the best-recommended cleaning items to be used

• In case of using soap, it should be washed properly so that any residue does not interfere with the adhesion of the skin barrier later on!

• Soaps with essential oils, perfumes, and deodorants are not recommended as they might irritate the skin or smoothen it too much. This could hinder the skin barrier from settling down on your skin.

• Baby wipes and towelettes should never be used.

• Rarely a small amount of blood might be noticed since the stoma tissue contains blood vessels. Nevertheless, there’s nothing to worry about. But scrubbing the stoma must be extremely gentle. (Remember, stoma has no nerve endings – you will not be able to feel the pain!)

What ostomy cleansers do?

Among the many functions that Ostomy appliance cleansers perform, here are the significant ones:

1. They do away with the unwanted odors as well as the calcium and urine build up.

2. While functioning as a deodorant, these appliance cleaners kill the bacteria (that causes the odor) too thus making it germ-free

3. Some even aid in lubricating the bag so as to prevent ‘pancaking’ (blockage of the top portion of the bag by the user’s stool!)

Urinary crystals and other ostomy wastes...

The body effluent that is emitted through the stoma may create some nuisance like a foul odor or even urinary crystals around the skin of the stoma. The latter is an issue mostly associated with urostomy patients. Candidates with bladder malfunctioning undergo this surgery. Urine is let out through the surgically created abdominal opening (stoma).

When the pH level of the urine is more alkaline, the possibility of noticing granular crystals around the skin of the stoma arises. It is therefore advised to maintain the pH level to a slightly acidic one with dietary change (like reducing intake of garlic, onion) and consumption of plenty of water. A 1:1 solution of vinegar and water rubbed very gently on the concerned skin area dissolves the crystals and cleanses the skin.

Ostomy appliance cleaners are sometimes coupled with de crystallizers which are specially formulated to be used with the urinary disposal system. It safely does away with the foul odor too.

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