There is nothing we look forward to more than the warm hazy days of summer. But for those with a stoma increased temperatures can be a challenging time and concerns from ostomates tend to be around skin irritation, making sure you keep hydrated and how stoma supplies hold up in the heat. Here is some useful information for those who are worried about how to deal with the heat when you have a new stoma. For those who have had a stoma for a while it is a good re-fresher to keep yourself well, during the warmer months here in the UK or when travelling abroad to hotter climates.
Skin issues in the hot weather:
Most of the stoma pouches are designed to withstand extreme weather. Yet, in the heat we all tend to perspire more than usual and sadly this can interfere with your stoma pouch and its adhesion to the skin around your stoma. As your skin becomes moist it can be tricky to keep your stoma pouch in place for the usual amount of time and you may find yourself having to change your pouch more often than usual. The heat can cause the skin barrier to break down faster. Make sure you have plenty of stoma pouches at home so that you can change more frequently if required.
Tip: try flange extenders around the edges of your baseplate which may give you more wear time or a barrier ring around your stoma if your output is looser than normal, this way your skin will be protected from any leaks.
Your skin around the stoma (peristomal) may become red, itchy, and generally irritated during the summer. Often the irritation starts around the edge of the flange and works its way towards the stoma causing discomfort. Applying barrier wipes or powder would usually help with this issue but when your skin is moist with the weather warm it can interfere with the pouch adhering properly.
Tip: make sure your peri-stomal skin is completely dry before applying your next stoma pouch.
Don’t be afraid to sunbathe with a stoma. Apply your stoma pouch first, so it gets a good seal before you apply your sun cream so that it doesn’t interfere with the adhesion. If you do enjoy spending a long time in the sunshine it is a good idea to ensure you have an opaque cover or an additional stoma cover as the plastic of the pouch can magnify the heat. Prolonged periods in direct sunlight can affect both the pouches and the output within. Where possible try to keep your stoma covered or sit in shaded areas to avoid any issues.
Try to keep cool, its lovely to sit in the sunshine but be careful you don’t get sunstroke. If you are lucky enough to have a swimming pool nearby or even the sea, take regular dips which will help cool you down. If you are concerned about swimming, take a look at the different stoma pouches available such as smaller pouches or stoma caps. There are also a variety of swimming costumes available online from Vanilla Blush, White Rose Collection and Etsy, which are designed for discretion for those wearing a stoma pouch.
Staying hydrated is a key piece of advice for those who have a stoma, but even more so in the heat of summer. As we perspire more in the hotter weather, our bodies lose fluids at a more rapid rate than normal, so we need to focus on increasing our fluid intake to keep hydrated to prevent us from becoming dehydrated and unwell.
There are some simple steps you can take do to keep well hydrated:
- Fill a water bottle and always keep it with you. Keep re-filling this throughout the day and before bedtime. Add a little (no added sugar) squashes as a dilute to help hydrate you.
- Try to avoid drinks high in sugar such as sugary squashes, fruit juices or fizzy drinks as they make symptoms of diarrhoea worse.
- Cut down on caffeinated drinks. Caffeine can increase the speed at which foods and fluids pass through your bowel, so try and change to decaffeinated versions or herbal teas.
- Avoid sweeteners such as sorbitol, xylitol or mannitol, or foods which contain them as they can also increase your stoma output and can also cause wind and bloating.
- Try to avoid alcohol until you have the high output under control. Bear in mind other factors such as what medications you are taking and how these will react together.
- There are special drinks available called rehydration solutions – such as Dioralyte or St Marks Solution. These contain electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. These should be made up and sipped regularly throughout the day.
- Many ostomates prefer sport drinks…. dilute these down with water as they are often high in sugars.
- It is a good idea to separate fluids and solids. It may even be better to wait 30mins before or after a meal before drinking fluids. Try to limit fluids with meals to sips and have no more than 125mls (1/2 cup) in total. This will help the solid food pass more slowly through your intestines which helps your body absorb the nutrients.
- Imodium taken before meals, can help thicken any loose output and it will help slow your stoma down
Storage of your stoma supplies:
In the warmer weather it is worth looking at where you store your supplies. Stoma pouches and accessories need to be kept in a cool, dry place as the heat can affect the adhesive on your appliance. If you use any accessories such as barrier rings or flange extenders, they may not work as effusively if they are warm.
Tip: Remember if you keep any spare supplies in your car, you may want to refresh these items if they have been sat in the sunshine.