Signs of a stoma problem

A sort of stomata is an opening created in the abdominal wall during surgery to allow waste to leave the body if you are unable to pass a bowel movement through the rectum.Waste is put into bags outside the body called ostomy appliance.

Stomas are fragile, especially in the days and weeks after surgery. It can be injured if not handled or cared for properly, or the tissue can die if the stoma doesn’t get an adequate blood supply.

This article describes the different types of stoma a surgeon may create, and what to expect after surgery and during the healing process. It then lists signs and symptoms of problems that require a visit to a doctor or the nearest emergency room.

stoma type

There are three main types of stoma:

  • ileostomy: An ileostomy to remove waste from the small intestine. This type of stoma is expected to produce more watery, less stool formation, as stool has less time to remove excess water in the digestive tract.
  • colostomy: This type of stoma drains waste from the large intestine (colon) and should remove more fecal-like waste with less fluid.
  • urostomy: Unlike colostomy and ileostomy, this stoma drains urine from the bladder, not stool from the bowel.


An ileostomy removes waste from the small intestine, while a colostomy removes waste from the large intestine (colon). A urostomy removes urine from the bladder.

what to expect

The stoma should be solid red or pink. A stoma is created using the lining of the intestines, which should be moist and shiny. When done, these tissues will look very similar to the inside of the mouth on the cheeks.

The stoma may swell and produce mucus for a few days after surgery. Although the stoma itself should be moist, the skin around the stoma should be relatively normal in appearance.

The skin closest to the stoma may be irritated by the procedure, but should be normal in color, texture, and temperature. It should not look infected or “angry” (unusually red, swollen, or inflamed).

The stoma and the skin around the stoma may be soft as it heals, and there may be some pain during normal cleaning. This should start to ease over time. A small amount of blood in the stoma is also common as it heals.

You may need to try several different ostomy appliances to get the best fit. The same applies to appliance adhesives, some of which can be more irritating than others. If the options you are currently using cause discomfort or irritation, discuss different options with your surgeon.


After surgery, the stoma may be swollen and red, but the skin around it should look healthy. There may be some pain, tenderness, and redness initially, but over time the stoma should look similar to the lining of the cheek and have a moist, shiny appearance.

A Simple Guide to Changing Ostomy Appliances

signs of ostomy problems

Discuss any of the following signs with your healthcare provider:

  • The swelling will not decrease or increase in the weeks following surgery.
  • Your stoma has changed significantly in size—more than half an inch—in one day.
  • The stoma is no longer a stout red or pink, but pale in appearance.
  • The stoma looks no longer wet, but looks dry.
  • Your stoma will turn dark red, purple or even black.
  • Your stoma stool is always watery or diarrhea.
  • You will feel constant pain in the stoma.
  • There is a pus-like discharge from the stoma.
  • Your appliance is unsuitable, has to be replaced more frequently than expected, or irritates your skin.
  • The stoma appears to be “strangled” by the appliance.
  • Your stoma appears to either pull itself back into the abdomen or expand out of the abdomen.


Call your doctor if the stoma remains swollen, enlarged, pale or dry, oozes pus, causes persistent pain, begins to bulge or retract, or changes color. Persistent diarrhea is also a problem.

Signs of skin problems around the stoma

Contact your healthcare provider if you notice the following signs of skin problems around your stoma:

  • The skin around the stoma becomes infected and/or looks red and “angry”.
  • There is pus-like discharge.
  • The complexion suddenly changed.
  • The skin is irritated by the ostomy appliance, causing redness, abrasions, or a raw or “burned” appearance.
  • There is persistent pain or a strong burning sensation.
  • Sores on your skin around the stoma or where the device is located.


Seek immediate medical attention if the skin around the stoma becomes discolored, develops ulcers or abrasions, or shows signs of infection (including increased redness, pain, swelling, warmth, and pus-like discharge).

When to call 911

Significant changes in the color of the stoma, including extreme paleness or darkening, indicate that the tissue is not receiving enough blood. A very pale stoma means a poor blood supply.Purple or black indicates that the tissue is dying (called necrosis).

These types of color changes should be reported to your surgeon immediately, whether the procedure is recent or past. If you can’t reach your surgeon, go to the nearest emergency room, especially if changes are sudden and rapid.

Another sign of an emergency is serious cellulitis, a common bacterial infection that causes redness, swelling, and pain in the affected area of ​​the skin. Most situations are not emergencies, but they can become emergencies in the following situations:

  • The area of ​​redness, swelling, warmth and pain is spreading rapidly.
  • The affected area is hardening.
  • The affected area begins to numb.
  • The skin starts to turn purple or black.
  • High fever is accompanied by chills, often with nausea and vomiting.


If your stoma has a sudden extreme change in color or signs of severe cellulitis (including high fever, chills, vomiting, and rapidly spreading areas of red, swollen, painful, hard, and hot), go to the nearest emergency room) .


A stoma is a surgical opening in the abdominal wall that allows stool or urine to pass out of the body when the body cannot pass it normally. During the healing process, there may be pain, redness, or swelling, but over time these symptoms subside and the stoma will turn pink to firm red with a moist, shiny appearance.

It is important to call your doctor if the stoma is not healing properly, becomes discolored, becomes dry, oozes pus, or shows other signs of infection. The same applies if the skin around the stoma becomes sore, suddenly changes color, or develops ulcers or abrasions. Persistent diarrhea is also a problem.

Signs of an emergency include chills, vomiting, and rapidly spreading redness, swelling, pain, stiffness, and high fever in the hot area. Sudden changes in color—either extreme paleness, or extreme purplishness or darkening—are also signs of a medical emergency.

Tips and tricks for living with an ostomy

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the signs of a healthy stoma?

    A healthy stoma should be solid red or pink. After surgery, the stoma may be moist, but the skin around it should look normal.

  • What if the stoma is swollen?

    Some swelling in the stoma is normal for a few days after surgery. If the swelling persists for several weeks and doesn’t improve, this may be a sign to call your doctor.

  • What are the signs of a stoma infection?

    Some signs of a stoma infection are if the surrounding skin is red or puffy, pus or discharge, ulcers or pain around the stoma. Contact your doctor if you have a fever over 99.5 F after surgery.

  • Why is my stoma bleeding?

    After surgery, it is normal for a small amount of blood to flow out of the stoma. However, if the stoma begins to leak more than a few drops of blood, contact your healthcare provider or surgeon.

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