Keeping your stoma healthy is paramount to ensuring your overall health. During winter, many people do pay more attention to their skincare, so don’t forget to check the skin around your stoma too! With Christmas and the New Year upon us, it’s vital you keep hydrated, maintain a balanced diet and keep warm to ensure the health of your stoma.
Read our top tips below for advice on how you can keep your stoma healthy.
The skin around your stoma will always need to be looked after and cleaned carefully every time you change your stoma bag. With the cold weather and central heating on, it’s quite common that skin can dry out, however, the weather shouldn’t affect your stoma too much as it’s protected by your bag. If you do get sore skin around your stoma, speak to your stoma nurse who will be able to help.
- Wash the stoma and surrounding skin with warm water and use the dry wipes which are provided to you by Goldcare (or another delivery company).
- Try to avoid using soaps, lotions/creams as they can irritate your skin and cause itching.
- If your skin does get a little sore, your stoma care nurse may give you some special stoma sprays, wipes or powders, so follow their instructions with these.
- You can use the small pack of wet wipes supplied by Goldcare (or another delivery company) to clean your stoma whilst you’re out and about.
Getting the size of your bag right
To ensure the health of your stoma, it’s really important to make sure the aperture in your stoma bag is cut to the right size. If it’s too tight, it can rub on the delicate surface of the stoma which can cause ulceration. On the other hand, if the hole is too large, stoma output will come into contact with the skin which can cause it to become red and sore.
- If you are unsure of the correct fitting, ask a Stoma Care Nurse to assess your stoma and remeasure it for you.
- A template can easily be taken and sent to your delivery company, with the new sizing for your next order.
Leaks from your appliance
Leaks in your stoma bag aren’t uncommon and if you have had one, you will know how miserable they are! If you do experience a leak, speak to your stoma care nurse who will help to see what the underlying cause it. Potential causes include the sizing of your stoma bag, changes in shape and size of your stoma, hernias which can stop your bag from adhering to your skin properly, or you may be experiencing looser output than normal.
The good news is, all of these issues can be resolved and the chances of experiencing a leak can be significantly reduced. Leakage from your stoma bag isn’t something you should have to put up with and there are many things your stoma care nurse can do to help prevent it from happening.
- Try to keep the skin around your stoma clean and dry.
- Take some additional wipes with you when you leave the house.
- If your appliance has a belt attachment, make sure you wear the belt firmly enough. Your stoma care nurse will be able to advise you on this.
Eating and drinking with a stoma
Eating a balanced diet is important for everyone, not just for ostomates. While ostomates can still enjoy the food they love, it can sometimes take a while to learn what your body digests well and what it doesn’t.
After surgery, it’s recommended that you follow a bland diet with soft foods which are easy to digest. Little and often is key here as you may feel bloated at first. Further into your recovery, it might be worth noting what foods have an impact on your stoma as you start to re-introduce them to your diet. It’s a good idea to just try small amounts initially, to see how your body reacts.
While fruit and vegetables are extremely healthy, they do have very tough skins which can be difficult for the body to digest. Therefore, it may be a good idea to peel them and cook until they are soft. Go easy with the fizzy drinks over the festive season as they can cause excessive gas in your stoma bag. You should also be cautious of nuts and dried fruits in Christmas Puddings and Mince Pies.
- Go to a restaurant you know well for your first outing and try to be sensible with your menu choices
- Talk to the chef about what you can and can’t eat and certain ingredients
- If you want to have some alcohol, start with a small amount to see how your stoma reacts to it.
There are some fantastic diet leaflets which you should be sent home with, so do have a read of these. You can also find out more about diet after stoma surgery here.
How will I manage to sleep at night with a stoma?
Sleep is important for everyone, below are our top tips for ensuring you have a comfortable nights sleep as an ostomate…
- Before you go to bed, empty or change your stoma bag to ensure it doesn’t overflow during the night. It’s also a good idea to eat your food earlier on in the evening to reduce stoma activity during the night.
- Use a night bag on your urostomy bag. This is usually attached to a nightstand at the side of your bed and saves you getting up in the night to empty your bag.
- Finding a comfortable sleeping position can be tough if you are used to sleeping on the same side as your new stoma. Try out some different positions such as on your bag or on the opposite side.
- Try placing a pillow in front of your abdomen so that when you are lying on your side, you can’t roll forwards onto your stoma.
We hope this has given you some good tips on how you can keep your stoma clean and healthy.