Understanding stoma problems

Stoma management

Hear from Sarah our Clinical Advisor

From A Bigger Life

Within the world of stoma care there will be lots of words you will come across. So, we would like to give you a definition and understanding of what these words mean.

Peristomal skin
Peristomal skin will be something you will hear and see written in a lot of your documentation and booklets. Peristomal skin, in brief, is the skin around your stoma. It’s just the technical term for that area.

Ballooning is when your pouch blows up with air and doesn’t escape through the filter. Within every pouch there is a filter, it should work by passing out the air, but sometimes if you’re keeping your pouch on for more than 24 hours the filters aren’t completely effective. If your pouch blows up with air you’ll have to change your pouch, or you can empty the air out if you’re using a drainable pouch.

Pancaking is another term that would be very familiar to people who have a colostomy, specifically. But sometimes if you have an ileostomy and your output is a little thicker than it should be you can experience your output sticking up to the top of your pouch and it doesn’t fall down into the pouch very easily. A remedy would be:

  1. Increase your fluid intake.
  2. Put some Vaseline, ky jelly or a lubricant into your pouch – whenever the bowel motion hits the pouch then the output will slide into the bottom.

Excoriation is a word that you will hear your stoma care nurse or your doctor talking about if you have developed some sore skin around the stoma or on your peristomal skin. Excoriation just means sore skin.

A hernia is a common complication following stoma surgery. It’s a protrusion of the bowel through the muscle in your abdominal wall. How you will know if you have a hernia, is that you will feel and see a swelling in your abdominal wall, around your stoma. If it’s only small and if it’s not interfering with how you are able to manage your stoma care you don’t have to do anything about it. If it’s large, go back to your stoma care nurse because there is a procedure you can have to repair the parastomal hernia. Prevention of a peristomal repair is actually more important, you should avoid lifting anything between 6-8 weeks after your surgery, try and do some abdominal muscle exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles after your surgery.

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