Stoma Care

A Healthy Stoma

Maintaining the health of your stoma and the peristomal (surrounding) skin is one of the most important factors to feeling comfortable post ileostomy and colostomy. While your stoma may continue to change for up to eight weeks after surgery, it's pertinent to get in the habit of checking and cleaning the peristomal skin each time you change your skin barrier. You may never have any issues, however the ability to recognize potential problems can help you to maintain a healthy stoma. 

Understanding Your Ostomy 


An ileostomy is a surgically-created opening in the small intestine which is then brought through the abdomen wall. During this procedure, a portion of the small intestine and large intestine is removed or bypassed, therefore stool is no longer eliminated through the anus. Instead, stool is eliminated through the ileostomy. This new opening is called a stoma. 


A colostomy is similar to an ileostomy, however is a surgically-created opening into the colon (large intestine) through the abdomen. This is to allow the stool to bypass a diseased or damaged part of the colon. A colostomy may be made at any point along the colon. After the procedure, stool is now eliminated through the colostomy. 

What is a stoma?

A stoma is the surgically-created small or large intestine opening in a person's abdomen. Each stoma is unique, however chances are it will always be red and usually moist, similar to the inside of a person's lip. It should not be painful, though might bleed easily. Temporary bleeding post-surgery is normal, however if the bleeding continues, or if the discharge is bloody, contact your doctor immediately. After surgery, your stoma will be swollen and may take several weeks or months to shrink to its permanent size. 

What is the peristomal skin?

The skin surrounding the stoma is called the peristomal skin. it is important to make sure you keep this skin healthy by using ostomy products that fit well, minimize leakage, and stay in place. It is very important for the skin surrounding the stoma to remain healthy and free of irritation. It should have no rashes or sores, and should look just like the skin elsewhere on your abdomen. 

Pouching systems and skin barriers 

The pouching system selected for use in the hospital post surgery is often basic. After returning home, a person may want to try some different pouching systems to find what works best. One-piece and two-piece systems are both available. Each have varying advantages, but all include a skin barrier. The skin barrier is the adhesive portion of the pouching system that protects your skin and attaches the pouching system to your body. In a one-piece system, the skin barrier and pouch are attached, whereas with a two-piece system, the skin barrier is separate from the pouch. Pouching systems are available with a variety of features from drainable and closed pouches, to filters, panel material choices, skin barrier options, and closure systems.