Ostomy Care

Adjusting to life with an ostomy can be challenging, but there are ways to help make ostomy care easier. Whether you are searching for products for yourself or a loved one, here is what you need to know about ostomy supplies and maintenance.

What is an Ostomy?

An ostomy is a surgical procedure where a doctor creates an opening in the belly, or stoma, to connect the intestine to the skin's surface. There are two types of ostomies. An ileostomy involves the small intestine, while a colostomy opens to the colon. Your healthcare team will discuss all your options with you before the surgery and will also supervise care.

Types of Ostomy Systems

There are two major types of ostomy systems.

One-piece Ostomy Systems: A one-piece ostomy system has the ostomy bag or pouch and the ostomy barrier, the part that sits flush against the skin and around the stoma, joined together. This type of system is easy to apply and remove because you are changing both the bag and the skin barrier at the same time. Manufacturers offer a variety of one-piece systems:
  • Sizes range from 1.25 inches to around 3 inches.
  • You can choose a transparent or opaque bag.
  • Skin barrier features vary by manufacturer.

    Two-piece Ostomy Systems: Two-Piece Ostomy Systems: A two-piece ostomy system has a pouch separate from the skin barrier with a phalange that connects them. This allows you to switch between bags to easily suit your activities. You can get two-piece systems in a variety of sizes, transparency types, and skin barrier types. With two-piece systems, you can also mix and match the pouch and the skin barrier.

    Closed-End vs. Drainable Pouches

    In addition to choosing between one-piece and two-piece systems, ostomy users will also pick between drainable and closed-end pouches. You can remove, clean, and reuse a drainable pouch, thus reducing costs. With closed-end pouches, you throw the pouch away and replace it with a new one.

    Ostomy Skincare Overview

    Because the ostomy bag sits against the skin of your belly, you will need to pay extra attention to the skin around that area. If you notice itching or irritation, you should:
  • Carefully remove the ileostomy or colostomy bag and, if you have a 2-piece system, remove the skin barrier.
  • Clean and dry the skin under the pouch.
  • Use ostomy powder or other skin protection on the skin.
  • Carefully reattach or replace the pouch.
  • Contact your doctor or ostomy nurse if irritation persists.

    Ostomy Skincare Supplies

    You can find excellent ostomy skincare products to help protect your skin. These include:
  • Ostomy Powder: Apply the powder to clean, dry skin around the stoma to increase comfort and avoid skin irritation.
  • Ostomy Barrier Wipes and Sprays: You can spray or wipe these before attaching the skin barrier for increased comfort.
  • Barrier Adhesive Removers: These dissolve the adhesive from the skin barrier for easy barrier removal.
  • No-Sting Barrier Cleansers: You can find these as either wipes or a spray. The cleanser has an alcohol-free formula, so it will not hurt when you are cleaning the skin around the barrier.

    Ostomy Accessories

    There are a wide variety of ostomy accessories to help make your ostomy easier to manage. These include:
  • Paste: The paste helps create an even surface to make the area less bulky and prevents drainage from getting under the skin barrier.
  • Rings: Use rings to fill uneven surfaces and improve the fit between the ostomy and stoma for better protection.
  • Deodorant: Add this to the pouch to help eliminate odor. Lubricating deodorants also help reduce the smell.
  • Elastic Barrier Strips: These add extra security to the barrier.
  • Strip Paste: If you are using strips, you can use a strip paste to get an even surface underneath.
  • Ostomy Belts: Attaches the barrier and pouch to your body to minimize movement.