Question: Dealing with Persistent Skin Issues Around Ostomy Site

I have been living with an ostomy for 5 years, but in the past 3 months, I’ve faced constant skin irritation under and around my ostomy bag. Despite using a cortisone spray and trying various product changes, the skin remains either “red and weeping” or “dry, scabby, and peeling.” I’ve experimented with changing products (Salts brand appliance, Hypafix tape, Pampers hypoallergenic wipes) and even tried pre-surgical soap for potential fungal/bacterial issues. What additional advice can you offer for this persistent problem?

Response: Strategies to Manage Ongoing Skin Complications for Ostomy Patients

Your proactive approach to managing your skin issues is commendable, but it’s clear that further steps are needed to address the problem effectively:

  1. Allergy Testing: Conduct a patch test with the products you use. This will help determine if you have developed an allergy to one of them.
  2. Simplifying Skin Care: Temporarily switch to simple water-based cleaning methods. Avoid soaps with perfumes, moisturizers, or alcohol-based products as they can exacerbate skin irritation.
  3. Consulting a Specialist: Contact an NSWOC (Nurses Specialized in Wound, Ostomy, and Continence). They can provide an expert assessment and recommend suitable skin care products. Find an NSWOC near you through the Ostomy Canada Society’s website at
  4. Evaluating Medications: Review any medications you are taking for potential side effects that might contribute to skin sensitivity.
  5. Exploring Alternative Products: Consider trying different brands or types of ostomy products. Many manufacturers offer samples that you can test to see if they suit your skin better.
  6. Checking for Infections: Given your symptoms, it’s crucial to rule out fungal or bacterial infections, which require specific treatments.
  7. Possible Causes and Management:
    • Allergic Contact Dermatitis: If your skin reacts to a specific product, eliminate that product and observe any changes.
    • Fungal/Bacterial Infections: Look for signs of infection and treat accordingly with the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Remember, every individual’s skin can react differently, and it may take some experimentation to find the right combination of products that works for you. The key is to keep communication open with your healthcare providers and seek professional advice when needed.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay
Ostomy Lifestyle Expert Member of Ostomy Canada Society
Medical Lifestyle Advisory Committee Member