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Ostomy

Tips for living with your ostomy

Living with an Ostomy

The United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. has produced a video showing the positive quality of life attainable after ostomy surgery. View the video or order the DVD on ostomy.org.

An ostomy is a surgically created opening in the body for the discharge of body wastes. It is usually about the size of a quarter. The size and shape of your stoma can change for up to six weeks. A pouch is worn over the opening to collect waste.

What if the pouch leaks?
What if I see some blood when cleaning my stoma?
Is it normal to see my stoma move?
Is a different color stool normal?
What if I can't get the paste residue off my skin?
Can I go swimming?
Why would I take vitamin C for my urinary stoma?
Could I irrigate my fecal stoma and not wear a pouch?
What about gas?

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Tips for Living With Your Ostomy, osty-ahc-21002
Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department
First Published: 07/15/2001
Last Reviewed: 01/05/2012

Skin care

Learning how to identify a skin condition and knowing how to care for it can help keep the skin around your ostomy opening healthy. The following are guidelines on how to take care of the skin.

If your skin does not heal or your condition becomes worse, call your doctor or wound ostomy and continence nurse (WOCN).

There are three common skin conditions linked to an ostomy:

Skin irritation

The skin around your stoma will be red. This is due to leakage under your appliance or too large an opening in your skin barrier. Skin irritation may be slight (red skin) to severe (red, painful and weepy). If you have a problem with leakage, you will need to alter the way you change your pouch. If the opening in your skin barrier is too large, you will need to resize the opening.

To care for a skin irritation:

  • Put Stomahesive® or Premium® powder on your irritated skin.
  • Brush off extra powder. Make sure your hands are dry.
  • Change your pouch as you usually would.

Yeast infection

Yeast infections show up in warm, moist areas such as your armpits, groin or under your appliance. A yeast infection on the skin under your appliance will have small red and/or white areas the size of a pinpoint. Your skin may itch. The yeast infection may spread past your skin barrier.

To care for a yeast infection:

  • Clean and dry your affected skin.
  • Spread an antifungal powder over the area and massage it all into your skin. You may buy an over-the-counter miconazole nitrate 2 percent (Mitrazol®) or get a prescription for nystatin (Mycostatin®) from your doctor.
  • Brush off extra powder. Make sure your hands are dry.
  • Change your pouch as you usually would.
  • Use the powder for one or two pouch changes after your skin is healed.

Allergic reaction

You may become sensitive to any part of your appliance. This can happen at any time.

An allergic reaction will affect your skin that comes in contact with your appliance. Your skin will be red and it may itch, sting or burn.

Put a small amount of the product on another part of your body for 48 to 72 hours. If your skin reacts the same way, remove the product and call your doctor.

There are other products you may use if you have an allergy to your current one.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Tips for Living With Your Ostomy, osty-ahc-21002
Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department
First Published: 07/15/2001
Last Reviewed: 01/05/2012

Fecal pouches

How to empty a fecal pouch
How to change a presized fecal pouch
How to change a sizable fecal pouch
How to change a two-piece fecal pouch

Urinary pouches

How to change a reusable urinary pouch
How to change a presized urinary pouch
How to change a sizable urinary pouch
How to change a two-piece urinary pouch

Source: How to Empty a Fecal Pouch, osty-ahc-10758 (7/01); How to Change a Presized Fecal Pouch, osty-ahc-14374; How to Change a Sizable Fecal Pouch, osty-ahc-10759; How to Change a Two-piece Fecal Pouch, osty-ahc-10762; How to Change a Reusable Urinary Pouch, osty-ahc-10763; How to Change a Presized Urinary Pouch, osty-ahc-10760; How to Change a Sizable Urinary Pouch, osty-ahc-10764; How to Change a Two-piece Urinary Pouch, osty-ahc-14373
Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department
First Published: 03/15/2009
Last Reviewed: 01/05/2012

Ostomy nurses at Allina Health metro hospitals

Abbott Northwestern Hospital

800 East 28th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55407

Cambridge Medical Center

701 South Dellwood Street, Cambridge, MN 55008

Mercy Hospital

4050 Coon Rapids Boulevard, Coon Rapids, MN 55433

  • Wound, ostomy and continence nurses, 763-236-7096
  • Outpatient clinic is located in procedural care.

United Hospital

333 North Smith Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102

  • Anita Carteaux, wound ostomy and continence nurse (WOCN), 651-241-9058
  • JoAnn Hardegger, wound ostomy and continence nurse (WOCN), 651-241-5665
  • United Outpatient Ostomy Clinic, for appointments, call 651-241-2525

Unity Hospital

550 Osborne Road, Fridley, MN 55432

  • Wound ostomy and continence nurses, 763-236-3652 (for both inpatient and outpatient services)
  • Outpatient clinic is located in the ambulatory care department.

Organizations and support groups

Books

  • "Alive and Kicking" and "Great Comebacks from Ostomy Surgery" by Rolf Benirschke
  • "Bag Lady" by Sandra Benitz
  • "Bedpan Banter," "If the Battle is Over, Why Am I Still in Uniform? Humor as a Survival Tactic to Combat Cancer" and "I'd Like to Buy a Bowel Please! Ostomy A to Z" by Brenda Elsagher
  • "Betty Crocker's Living with Cancer Cookbook" by Dr. Kris Ghosh, Dr. Linda Carson and Elyse Cohen
  • "Dear Dr. Humor" by Dr. Stuart Robertshaw
  • "Lifelines" by Carol Larson
  • "Second Act: Life After Colostomy and Other Adventures" by Barbara Barrie
  • "The Ostomy Book: Living Comfortable With Colostomies, Ileostomies, and Urostomies" by Barbara Dorr Mullen and Kerry Anne McGinn, RN, ARNP
  • "Yes We Can: Advice on Traveling with an Ostomy and Tips for Everyday Living" by Dr. Brian Sweeney and Barbara Kupfer

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Tips for Living With Your Ostomy, osty-ahc-21002
Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department
First Published: 07/15/2001
Last Reviewed: 05/01/2012

Sources for ostomy / wound care products

This is a partial list of where you can buy ostomy and wound care supplies. Check with each retailer to see if Medicare or private insurance is accepted.

Be sure to contact your insurance provider to see who is responsible for payment before you buy your supplies for the first time.

Suppliers that do accept Medicare
Suppliers that do NOT accept Medicare

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Sources for Ostomy/Wound Care Products, osty-ahc-10767
Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department
First Published: 03/15/2009
Last Reviewed: 01/05/2012