These wipes indeed are known by more than one name. Some call them barrier wipes, while others term as barrier films. Collectively they are called skin preps. The purpose is somewhat evident from the name and is used to protect the skin. The question is: what sort of damage do skin preps protect your skin from?

You are certainly here because you have an ostomy or have had undergone some surgical intervention that has put you on external catheters and/or drainage tubes. So, precisely, the following are the few instances where skin preps are used –

• To prepare the skin for adhesives (especially for patients living with an ostomy pouch)

• Creates a protective interface on the skin that reduces friction during tape removal

• Acts as a skin protector and reduces skin infection around the stoma by cutting down chances of contact of your skin with body waste and fluid from the stoma.

In a gist, skin preps serve a dual purpose. They not only protect the skin from the harshness of adhesives (from the ostomy wafers) but also help the pouch adhere firmly. After prolonged periods of using an ostomy pouch, redness, soreness, itchy and patchy skins are common side-effects and skin preps aid in doing away with these hassles.

If the colon becomes dysfunctional, the ostomy pouch becomes your most essential ‘partner’ in life. Although not easy with the social stigma, skin preps are one of those medical items that help ease the use of an ostomy pouch! That said, how skin prep wipes are used to better your ostomy experience is the next question in the queue...

The use of skin prep wipes

The stoma area needs to be cleaned and washed. Following this, the skin should be allowed to dry completely. Washing the skin should preferably be done with soaps or body washes that are free from any extra dose of moisturizers and essential oils. This allows minimal interference with adhesives, which otherwise do not allow the pouch to stick well.

The next step involves the uniform application of the skin prep around the stoma (and even dressing or catheter site, as the case may be). It takes approximately 30 seconds to dry completely. Remember, the act needs to be completed in a single application. If any area has been missed, wait for the 30 seconds (for the original area to dry) and then go for it.

The third step involves an important query – is there any need for a second application? Yes, there is, if you want maximum protection, you might go for it (but remember to wait for those 30 seconds!)

So, now that you are done with your skin prep procedure, you can continue with your job of wearing the pouch or applying the dressing that is required. Each time you remove the adhesive products the skin prep is also removed and therefore, re-application is required.

Interestingly, skin preps are not a must-have to serve your medical purpose (be it wearing the ostomy pouch or dressing a wound!) but, they are the first line of defense for your skin.

The 2 forms of skin preps – wipes & sprays

Skin preps may be in the form of wipes or sprays. Individuals get them according to their preferences based upon the ease of use. Even a single coating of skin preps function well – ensuring you do not need to spend much on them! Additionally, since it helps the ostomy pouch adhere better, resulting in decreased chances of leakage and fewer changes.

Finally, as is true in the case of every other product on earth, what works for one person might not always apply to others. However, on an overall scale, skin prep wipes are a good match for your ostomy pouch (or wound dressing!) – the cut down on stoma leaks as well as on your skin damage too!