Laura’s Number One Ostomy Skin Care Tip | Ask Laura

Laura Cox, LPC
Ostomy Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
06/16/15  9:17 PM PST
ostomy skin care

Check out Laura’s answer about ostomy skin care!

Hi Laura, I am due to have ostomy surgery next week. What is one thing you wish someone had told you about having an ostomy before ostomy surgery or when you were new to having an ostomy?



Hi Carol,

One of the things I most wish I would have known is that your skin under your wafer should look and feel like the rest of the skin on your abdomen. I just assumed that itchy, painful skin was a part of life with an ostomy. That’s absolutely not true! I also wish someone had told me not all of the accessories are mandatory for every person with an ostomy! I originally used every product (powder, paste, skin prep, etc.) out there because I assumed that’s what I was supposed to do. That was actually detrimental to my seal! When I started using only powder and stoma strips, my skin cleared right up! Everyone’s skin chemistry is different and not every product is going to work for you. Talk to a Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nurse (WOCN) if you’re having leaks or skin issues. He or she will help you find the right combination of products for you!

My stoma and my (relatively) happy skin!

Good luck!

I hope you’re happy and healthy,


You can find more articles and videos about living with an ostomy below:

Serving Medicare Ostomates Nationwide
What is one thing you wish someone had told you about having an ostomy before you got an ostomy or when you were new to having an ostomy?

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  1. Hi There I listened to your last talk and remember you said you wear Spanx each day & in the active life style it also says to keep pouch close to the body I wonder about this because for me thats when I get into trouble Tighter pants,whether waist is above or below stoma is when i get leaks. esp if there’s a lot of stool Lately there’s a style of more flowing pants that arent so tight on abdominal area but cant always wear those but hope they stay fashionable for a while. how do spanx help you in this regard thanks

    1. Hi Marianne,
      Thanks for the question! I find when I wear tight pants my output can’t fall to the bottom of the bag because of the waistline (this is when I get leaks), but when I wear spanx under tight pants, it applies an even pressure on my pouch, so the output is distributed evenly throughout the ostomy. I do have to empty my pouch a little more frequently when I wear spanx, though.
      I do love the flowing pants style when I want to be more comfortable too!

  2. Hi Marianne,
    I’m kind of new to having an ostomy (two months), but I guess if you can survive the first couple of weeks – you’re a vet. At first, I wore sweats, but with the weather turning I needed to find lighter material – shorts, capri’s or even sleepwear. Most of the time I live in my 100% cotton sleep pants with a t-shirt – the waist locates under my ostomy. Same with my shorts, capri’s and jeans.

    Interestingly, my stoma is still shrinking and at times will recede under my skin. Because my stoma output hole is located at the bottom of my stoma, my output can become like a cow-paddy causing leaks around my pouch seal. I had the WOCN come out for a visit and she gave me an ostomy belt – something I wish I would have gotten two months ago as well as signed me up from some different product samples. I have had the home health care nurses over, but even sometimes they need a WOCN especially if you need a convex barrier or a specific skin care product, wafer, seal or paste.

    Good luck Marianne and look forward to hearing from you.

  3. Laura, my family and I plan on going to Maui in a couple of months, could you recommend what ostomy bag I should use in order to go swimming? Thanks

  4. My problem is that my ostomy is too close to my naval. It continually leaks there. We have used the Hollister Adapt #79400 stick, the Hollister #79300 Paste and a combination of both together. Because of this type of leak I have to change my pouch every day or every other day. My ostomy also recedes flush with my skin making it hard to keep a seal around it. I will call the Ostomy nurse tomorrow to see what she can do to help.

    1. Hi! If you have a lot of stool in the pouch, you can invest in some lubricating deodorant, which will help you empty all the contents of the pouch. As far as cleaning the ostomy bag, some people swish water around in it, but manufacturers say this actually can sometimes “wash away” the odor control the pouches naturally have. I would advise you to only use the lubricating deodorant.

      I hope you’re happy and healthy!

  5. I recommend that you or a family member change the pouch before you leave the hospital. Plus make sure your supplies are at home waiting for you! My first night home was horrible. We didn’t know what we were doing and had no supplies. My poor husband was walking around Walgreens looking for tape, lol. Good luck on your surgery.

    1. That’s a great point, Annette! Having your supplies when you go home is so important – or at least supplies to hold you over until your order is shipped!

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