What is stoma pancaking?
We know it’s not going to be as pleasant as pancakes of the edible kind when we discuss pancaking in terms of stoma problems!
Stoma pancaking can occur when there is little to no air inside of the stoma bag. This can lead to a vacuum forming, which then means output from the stoma stays stuck on the stoma, or around the top of the stoma bag and on the bag filters. The output then cannot flow down into the stoma bag, unfortunately leading to the stoma bag coming away from the stoma in some cases, if not spotted early. This can then lead to sore skin, which can contribute to more leakages.
Stoma pancaking can also happen if your output is too sticky. Things that can cause this are certain foods, lack of hydration & some medications as well. It is important to stay hydrated as possible with a stoma as good practice anyway, but staying hydrated can help prevent output from being too thick and/or sticky.
With both ileostomy and colostomy bags, stoma pancaking can be quite a common issue, & is probably something you will come across at some point during your stoma journey. However, this is not a reason to panic! There are things that can be done to prevent stoma pancaking, as I will explain below.
How do I stop my stoma from pancaking?
There are a few ways that you can try to stop your stoma from pancaking.
- Blow a bit of air into your bag, prior to applying it. This alone can be a good thing to try, but you can also use the filter stickers you get with your bags to cover the filters with to ensure some of the air you have blown into your stoma bag stays in. Then, if you are happy your stoma output is going down into the bag properly, remove the sticker.
- Place a cotton wool ball or a bit of folded up toilet paper into your bag when applying a new bag and between empties also. This should encourage both the back and front of the bag to stay apart and not form a vacuum.
- Baby oil or natural oils such as peppermint oil can act as lubricants to stop your bag sticking together & encourage output to drain to the bottom. Simply place a drop or two into your bag when you have applied your bag, via the drainable outlet, and between empties. This can also act as a mild deodorant, especially if using something such as peppermint oil. You can also get odour neutralising lubricating drops especially for stoma bags. However, be careful to not apply too much or get it near to the top of your bag where the adhesive is, as this could affect how the bag sticks to your stomach.