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How to deal with dry peristomal skin in winter

We all struggle with dry skin during the cold, winter months. The combination of the winter air mixed with the dry indoor heat and lower humidity levels, can play havoc with your skin leaving it dry, itchy, chapped, and sore. With exposed areas such as hands and lips, it is straight forward to moisturise and protect these areas to prevent worsening of symptoms. But what can ostomates do for the skin around their stoma (peristomal skin), which can also be affected by the cold weather? The peristomal skin is vulnerable to dryness and irritation, especially in colder weather. Here are some tips to help you manage and alleviate dry peristomal skin during the winter months, helping to prevent any discomfort and possible complications.

Keeping your skin hydrated is key:

In winter, the air tends to be much drier as we have the heating on indoors, which can lead to dehydration of the skin. It’s important you stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Proper hydration helps to maintain the elasticity of your skin and prevents it from becoming dry and flaky. Although your stoma and peristomal skin are not directly exposed to the cold weather, you may still find your skin is drier than normal. Dry skin can cause flaking and irritation, which can be especially troublesome around the stoma area. Although your stoma bag should still adhere with no issue, this can become uncomfortable.

Choosing the right stoma product:

All pouches have a flange, which is the adhesive part that attaches the pouch to your skin around your stoma. There are many types of different flanges available now, most of which are made of hydrocolloid ingredients which are usually skin friendly. If you find this is causing the issue, it may be worth trying another pouch made of different ingredients.

The alginate pouch is extremely gentle for those with allergies or sensitive skin. Alginates are incredibly soothing for all types of damaged skin including wounds. Found in many species of seaweed, it is the alginate extracted from brown seaweed that are proven to help heal sore skin. Alginates have been used effectively in wound healing for many years. Oakmed’s alginate products also contains Vitamin E, proven to promote skin integrity and absorb moisture.

There are many other pouches available. Those with a thinner flange such as Microskin or Bioform which are more breathable and moisture vapour permeable for healthier skin. Due to the thin and flexible design of the flange, it moulds easily to the skins creases and folds.

Try protective wipes:

You could try using a protective wipe to the skin around your stoma (peristomal) after you have washed and dried your skin, and before you apply your next stoma pouch. Another good tip is to make sure there is a little bit of moisturising lotion within your adhesive remover spray to keep your skin in better condition.

Warm-up your stoma supplies:

When your stoma supplies get cold with the weather, they can become uncomfortable and contribute to skin dryness. Before applying your pouching system, warm it up by holding it in your hands or under your armpit for a few minutes. This can make the adhesive more pliable and comfortable when applying it to the peristomal skin. Make sure you store your stoma supplies in a place inside your house rather than a cold garage or shed.

Protect against the cold:

When going outdoors during winter, make sure to adequately protect your stoma and the peristomal area. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that provides warmth without causing friction or irritation.

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