Top tips to help you self assess your stoma
Hear from Sarah our Clinical Advisor
From A Bigger Life
Whenever you are living with a stoma it’s really important that you are confident and competent at identifying when and if there’s a problem. Your stoma care nurse would want you to access your stoma and peristomal skin and will be relying on you to come back to him and her if you do identify a problem. So, how do you know if there is anything wrong? Our top tips below will help you self assess your stoma.
Your peristomal skin
There shouldn’t be any redness on it, there shouldn’t be any broken or irritated areas, it should look exactly like the other side of your skin. If you develop any redness or irritation, that could be immediately next to your stoma, it could be on the outside of your flange, it could be the whole circumference of the adhesive part down onto your skin. If you identify that there is a change or a difference, it’s important to contact your stoma care nurse.
There are a few things you can do to prevent that from happening:
1. Measure your stoma
Make sure your pouch is exactly the right size and it fits the shape and size of your stoma.
2. Wash and dry your skin with water
Try not to use baby wipes unless it’s an emergency because there is a certain amount of oil within the baby wipes that can leave a residue on your skin, can prevent the bag from sticking and can also lead to some of these problems.
Be mindful of your routine, self-assess and make sure you know exactly what you’re doing.
In and around the stoma you can develop little lumps and bumps, they are called granulomas. They are generally where the stitches would’ve been whenever your stoma was first formed.
If you notice that you do have a little bit of blood on your tissue whenever you are washing and drying your stoma, a little bit of blood is normal. But if it’s coming from these areas of granulomas they can be treated. Contact your stoma care nurse and what she would do is treat them with a silver nitrate stick. The idea of that is to stop the bleeding and to shrink them down to size because sometimes they can interfere with how your pouch adheres.
If they’re not causing you any problems, you can leave them alone. If they are on the circumference of the stoma and just going out onto your peristomal skin, you can use a seal, that will help shrink them down.
If you have noticed that you have a swelling around your stoma, it could an indication that you might have a peristomal hernia, it would be good to go and get that checked out. Once again, if it’s not interfering with how your pouch adheres and it’s not interfering with your life, you don’t have to have anything done to it, but if it is becoming more of an problem it’s a good idea to get it identified and checked early on to ensure it is monitored over the course of the time you do have your stoma.
A little bit of blood on your tissue is normal whenever you are washing and drying your stoma, but certainly if you see any blood in your pouch, if it’s coming out with your bowel motion, it’s important to go to your GP, your stoma care nurse or your surgeon to ensure you can get that check out.
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