In the United States, an estimated 450,000 approx. people have ostomy support which is now a commonly experienced complication. Ostomy is the procedure to excrete out bodily waste through a stoma surgically created at the abdomen. The waste discharged is collected in an artificial bag called the ‘ostomy pouch’.

Life after ostomy surgery is difficult and there are quite a lot of physical, mental as well as social challenges. It is important to have proper knowledge of ostomy supplies to make it easier and use them effectively.

The major complication related to a stoma is leakage and when it comes in contact with the skin around the stoma can cause complications such as itching, soreness and skin breakdown.

The skin around the stoma is called peristomal skin and it is important to keep it healthy. A properly fitted skin barrier prevents all sorts of issues and provides the necessary partition between the skin and the stoma output.

Ostomy Skin Barrier – and varieties:

An Ostomy skin barrier is also called a ‘wafer’. A skin barrier adheres to the skin around the surgical stoma. It protects the skin from the discharged waste and attaches the ostomy pouch to the body.

Skin barriers are made of different materials like polymers, hydrocolloids, fillers, etc. In the case of a two-piece pouching system, the pouch and the barrier come separately. In a one-piece pouching system, the barrier and the pouch are attached and cannot be separated.

Skin barriers come in a few variants: Pre-cut barriers, Cut-to-Fit barriers, and Moldable barriers.

What are Moldable barriers?

In a moldable barrier, the material is stretchable and can be molded into any shape. When an ostomy pouch is fitted against the abdomen, it is likely that the abdomen will not provide a smooth surface for the pouch to sit. The moldable barrier between the body and the pouch is stretchable and can be cast into varied shapes so the pouch sits comfortably on a flat surface.

What is the advantage of a moldable barrier?

Unlike normal excreting system, people with an ostomy do not have control over their waste discharge, so they must wear an ostomy pouch continuously. It is impractical to be alert all the time and prevent leakage. A moldable barrierfirmly snugs the peristomal region and keeps the attachment secure, this prevents leakage. The waste materials do not touch the skin and keep it dry, preventing irritation and soreness.

Types of Moldable barriers:

1. Moldable barrier Strips: these are strip-like in shape. They are stretchable and moldable to be shaped around a peristomal region and fit accordingly to adjust the uneven skin contour.

2. Moldable barrier Rings: these come in donut shapes. They directly fit around the stoma-pouch junction and molded into the required contour.

Moldable Barrier Strips:

Moldable barrier strips come in three different shapes – Y- shaped strip for extra-wide barrier coverage; Rectangular Strips for square barriers; and the Round or Oval Strip. The Y-shaped strip is perfect for people with folded or round abdomen.

These are adhesive strips and provide the best seal available. All three shapes prevent the base plate from folding or moving from its position allowing you to move freely. The strip moves with you and adjusts itself with the body shape to prevent leakage.

Moldable Barrier Rings:

Moldable barrier ringscome in donut shapes – circular with a circular cut-out in the middle. These rings are designed to be stretched and shaped as well as be less visible. These rings are alcohol-free and do not cause irritation around the peristomal skin. They are made erosion-resistant to be used for a longer period and extend the time of the pouch.

These are supposed to protect the skin and prevent leakage from getting under the barrier. These can be cut, stretched, molded and even layered to get a suitable shape.

Continuous use of ostomy pouching systems can cause major skin complications like acute eczema and dermatitis. Study shows that the use of a skin barrier reduced the occurrence of leakage and skin issues. There are several brands like Brava, Hollister, Eakin that provide barriers of all types that give perfect protection to the skin and prevent leakage.