As summer approaches it brings extra hours of sunshine and HEAT. Folks tend to spend time outside for holiday or vacation BBQ’s, swimming or sunbathing. Did you know this can be a challenge for the ostomate? Increased temperatures often reduce barrier lifespan, as wafer breaks down faster from perspiration and increased oils. Here are some considerations for these extreme changes.
Perspiration will build up between the skin and barrier, which can cause the adhesive to fail. You can try an antiperspirant (no deodorant) around the ostomy location to reduce perspiration from building up. You may need to consider a seasonal appliance change if you have extreme changes in skin moisture. This will also be a consideration for those who exercise or are very active. Perspiration buildup under the wafer or pouch can cause failure of the ware or increased skin risk.
If you have leakage from moisture under the wafer a barrier film, spray, paste or ring may help a stronger, more reliable seal. If you experience leakage from water getting under the edge of the wafer, from swimming as an example, waterproof tape around the border will eliminate this potential risk. Avoid using (Karaya) rubber-based ostomy wafers in high heat conditions as it is more prone to break down or melt. Synthetic or foam wafers tend to have a higher heat threshold.
The skin is more susceptible to breakdown when it is hot and moist. The skin under the wafer may develop a rash as a result of constant moisture. The skin under the pouch may also be at risk from trapped moisture or perspiration. Cotton pouch covers will absorb moisture and reduce friction to delicate skin.
Everyone is at risk for dehydration, but especially ileostomates (stoma is in the small intestine) as there is a higher output of watery or liquid stool. Watching fluid intake not only helps to keep you hydrated but also promotes a more balance pH to the skin, which means a less oily skin.
Climate is everything when it comes to our bodies and things we do with or for them. What works in one season may not work in another. Temperature and humidity affect our skin, how well adhesives will work and how well we tolerate added “layers” of clothing and/or appliances. So next time you experience skin or appliance challenges during the HOT months of summer, consider these recommendations.
Author: Judy L. Gates, RN, MSN, BC, CWS, FACCWS
Reprint permission given by Phoenix Ostomy Support Groups