If your child has had issues with their digestive system that have resulted in the placement of an ileostomy, colostomy, or urostomy, it may cause some feelings of anxiety for you. Dealing with a sick child, no matter the age, can feel overwhelming, which is normal because we only want the best for our children. Dealing with the aftermath of surgery and coping with caring for your child’s new stoma can be made much easier with the support of pediatric surgical staff who care. At Alaska Pediatric Surgery, our surgical team will help you deal with the emotional aspects of your child’s surgery, as well as how to care for the stoma afterward that will help you feel more at ease. Before you know it, you and your child will be pros!

Join us in today’s post as we discuss some tips for caring for your child’s stoma. For more information or for specific questions about your child’s condition, don’t hesitate to contact your caring surgical team at Alaska Pediatric Surgery. Connect with us online or call our clinic today.

Before we dive into the care of your child’s stoma, let’s take a moment to discuss what a stoma is and how your child’s stoma differs from an adult stoma. These topics will help you better understand the stoma care tips to come.

Creating a stoma.

An ostomy is an opening that is surgically created as a means to re-route bodily waste. This is the treatment for conditions such as Hirschsprung’s disease or an imperforate anus. Some of these ostomies are temporary until the condition is permanently addressed, or may be permanent. The exit that is created to allow waste to be discharged is called a stoma.

Your child’s stoma.

If you are conducting general internet research on “how to care for a stoma” or “caring for an ostomy,” you will likely find an overabundance of information. However, it is important to understand that there are some pretty significant differences between your child’s stoma and that of an adult. One such difference is placement. A child’s stoma may be located in a different spot than what you may find in an adult. This is done on purpose for a few reasons. First, your child’s organs are not done growing and stoma placement is usually placed to account for this, whereas an adult stoma is placed where the ostomy is less likely to interfere with daily living. Your child’s stoma is typically located as close as possible to the organ it is diverting so that it may eventually be reversed, if possible. Additionally, the skin around your child’s stoma is much more sensitive than that of an adult, so more care is required.

Now that you have a basic understanding, let’s explore how to care for the stoma.

Bathing and skin care.

The collection pouch is a sealed unit and should be left on while bathing, and does not need to be covered. Simply towel-dry the pouch off after bathing. Keeping the skin around the stoma clean is important. The opening of the pouch, or the wafer, should be cut to match the stoma, while exposing as little surrounding skin tissue as possible to the inside of the collection bag. This will help prevent damage to the healthy tissue.

Changing the collection pouch.

Your child’s medical team will instruct you on how to use the specific pouch system your child will be using and any specific instructions about your child’s unique stoma and condition. But, some general pouch changing tips include:

  • Wash your hands before and after caring for the stoma.
  • The stoma’s size, shape, and appearance may change over time, but it should be red or pink and moist.
  • Only use lukewarm water and to clean the stoma and the surrounding skin. Do not apply lotion, baby wipes, or oil.
  • Pat the skin dry.
  • Cut the pouch wafer to the size and shape of the stoma, allowing it to fit snugly, without scraping the edges of the stoma or leaving exposed skin around the stoma — use the measuring guide that comes with your ostomy supplies.
  • Ensure the pouch is applied securely, without any gaps, and ensure the entire system is closed properly.

Stay tuned for part two of this topic, where we discuss how different foods will affect your child’s stoma, how to manage day-to-day activities, and how to reduce complications. In the meantime, if you have any questions about your child’s ostomy or you notice any change, do not hesitate to call us. Always refer to the discharge instructions you were given for specific care of your child’s unique situation and when to visit the emergency room.