Editor’s Note: Frank is a beloved member of BOA and has been gracious enough to write several very helpful articles that have appeared in the both the Broward Beacon and on our website. This article is intended for colostomates who had their surgery low enough in their colon to still have formed output. If your output is liquid or paste-like the following advice won’t be necessary for you. Thank you Frank. You’re the best!
Sometimes the most tedious part of a wafer change for my colostomy is cleaning off the dried stool that attaches itself to skin around the stoma. The stoma is very delicate and will easily bleed if touched too roughly. Before using the method below I would use a wet tissue and slowly work off the dried stool, sometimes cutting a Q-tip in half and gingerly prying up the stuck stool while avoiding puncturing the stoma. This was tiresome and risky. The large amount of dried stool that I personally find may be a result of my waiting seven days between wafer changes.
Now I use a method that’s easier, safer and quicker.
I bought a liquid soap especially designed for perineal cleaning which emulsifies stool for gentle and easy removal.
Before I take my shower on a morning when I will change the wafer, I remove the pouch to expose the stoma. Then I wet a Q-tip with the liquid soap and rub it around the edge of the stoma on the stuck stool.
I replace the pouch and take my shower while letting the liquid soap emulsify the stool. After the shower I again remove the pouch and wet another Q-tip with liquid soap and rub it on the stuck stool the second time. The repeated process works because the time delay allows the cleanser to loosen or dissolve the stool. I then wash the soap off my skin with water on another Q-tip.
Then I go about the business of replacing the wafer.
This technique works for me. The two applications of the special liquid soap gently lift off the (formerly) stuck stool which I remove with a piece of gauze, tissue or a Q-tip. The result is clean skin quickly and safely accomplished. I then wash the soap off with water.
The key is allowing time for the cleanser to work. Waiting a few minutes between liquid soap applications is usually enough.
The cleanser I use is “Peri-wash” made by Sween. I’m sure there are other brands available. I cut all my Q-tips in half before I use them. I buy bulk bags of Q-tips at a dollar store for a huge cost saving.
This method has halved the time it took me to change wafers. If you have the same problem, I hope it works for you too.