Approximately one in 500 Americans live with a stoma and require an ostomy system, and in many cases, that includes using ostomy barrier tape. In conjunction with properly fitted ostomy barriers, using medical tape can offer ostomates, those living with an ostomy system, additional security and comfort without adding pressure to the system or irritating the skin surrounding the stoma. But what does all that mean? Understandably, there are many questions about ostomy systems, and there are individual circumstances and needs for each person. This can make it challenging to find the right answer for you or the person you care for. In order to properly answer these frequently asked questions, it’s important to explain what stomas and ostomy systems are and how they function.
What Is A Stoma?
A stoma is a surgically created opening in the abdomen where waste can exit the body. Once the surgical wounds have healed, It is usually a small, round, and dark pink color. The stoma is the site where waste can be collected and disposed of using pouches that one can wear discreetly against the body. Stomas require consistent care with proper equipment. While the stoma itself should not be painful, the skin around it can be sensitive and needs to be cared for properly to prevent infections or other complications.
What Is An Ostomy System?
Ostomy barriers, also called wafers, help connect a stoma to an ostomy pouch while protecting the skin surrounding the stoma, called the peristomal area. The barrier is applied with adhesive on one side of the barrier or sometimes added ostomy barrier tape. Once applied and connected to the stoma, the ostomy appliance should fit snugly to prevent damage to the peristomal skin and leakage from the pouch. All stomas are different and vary in size and other factors; because of that, there are different types and sizes of ostomy barriers or wafers. It’s essential to ensure that the correct barrier is being used, which sometimes means a bit of trial and error until you find the right one and the best application process. Additionally, even the most perfectly fitting ostomy barrier benefits from the added security of some tape in certain circumstances. Having ostomy barrier tape on hand can help prevent unwanted complications and improve the life and comfort of your ostomy appliance.
5 Frequently Asked Questions About Ostomy Barrier Tape
1. When should I use ostomy barrier tape with my ostomy system?
Some of the most common times to use tape with an ostomy system are circumstances when you may be more active or in contact with water. This includes showering, working out, swimming, or even in places with higher humidity and heat than you are accustomed to. Using tape can also help if your ostomy bag or other parts of the system tend to catch on clothing or you feel a tugging sensation while moving in certain ways. In these situations, taping an edge or side of the bag can prevent those discomforts. It is important to note that tape should not be used to compensate for a system that is not fitted or functioning properly. It is always best to consult your ostomy nurse when changing your system and application.
2. What type of ostomy barrier tape should I use?
There is no universal tape that is best to use in all scenarios. Instead, look for what will be most helpful for your situation and environment. For instance, if you anticipate getting sweaty or wet, then you should look for tape that is waterproof. Some things to consider:
- Flexibility versus rigidity
- Length and width of the tape
- Resistance to water
- Type/level of adhesive
- Color or texture
Along with many things pertaining to a stoma and ostomy system, it can be best to try a few different approaches and brands of tape to see what will work best for you and your individual system. Many ostomates keep a variety of tape on hand for different scenarios.
3. How should I buy or order ostomy barrier tape?
Medical tape can be found at many pharmacies or medical supply stores. For a wider selection or to purchase a specific brand, you may need to order through a medical supply company. Many of the same companies that provide ostomy bags and barriers will also offer recommended tapes. You do not need a prescription to order the medical tape; however, ostomy barrier tape can be included in your prescription or even provided by an ostomy nurse until you can set up a consistent supply. Many medical supply companies offer large quantities or subscriptions to make the process of acquiring supplies like tape easier.
4. Is ostomy barrier tape covered by insurance?
Most insurances provide coverage for supplies like medical tape, especially if it is included in your prescription. Many companies also offer discounts when you order through an approved provider. For all insurance questions, please contact your service provider for specific information about your policy and coverage.
5. What should I do if the ostomy barrier tape is painful to remove or re-apply?
The peristomal skin can become easily irritated or even infected, especially if it is damaged by applying and removing adhesives. Some products can alleviate this discomfort and prevent irritation and infection. Adhesive removers can be found in both spray form and as wipes. Even if the tape comes off well, it is important to remove any residue that remains on your skin before applying any new adhesive. This will help prevent issues the next time you change or adjust your ostomy system.
Medical Supplies from Allied USA
With a wide range of ostomy barriers, ostomy barrier tape, and accessories to choose from, Allied USA can supply the necessary supplies to care for your or a loved one’s ostomy with confidence. Allied USA is dedicated to innovating and providing a broad portfolio of solutions to protect the environment and human health in sustainable and responsible ways. Contact us today to request a quote for your next order of medical supplies.