• abdominal stoma;
  • dermatitis;
  • psoriasis;
  • pyoderma gangrenosum

Background Skin integrity is essential for the normal usage of a stoma appliance. However, there is little published on the prevalence, nature or management of stoma-related skin disorders.

Objectives To document stoma-related skin disorders in a large cohort of patients.

Methods We sent a postal questionnaire to all surviving patients who had had abdominal stoma surgery at Hope Hospital, Salford, U.K. in the 10 years from 1 January 1989. Those reporting skin disease were invited to attend a clinic run by a dermatologist and a stoma-care specialist nurse. All lesions were categorized and swabs taken for microbiological examination.

Results Of 525 surviving patients, 325 (62%) replied to the questionnaire. Of these, 73% reported a skin problem that had affected normal stoma bag use. Dermatoses included irritant reactions, particularly from leakage of urine or faeces (42%); pre-existing skin diseases, principally psoriasis, seborrhoeic dermatitis and eczema (20%); infections (6%); allergic contact dermatitis (0·7%) and pyoderma gangrenosum (0·6% annual incidence). A further 15% of patients with skin problems had persistent or recurrent dermatitis not explained by allergy, frank infection or faecal irritation. This responded to short-term treatment with topical corticosteroids. Further investigation is under way into its pathogenesis.

Conclusions Skin disorders are common in stoma patients, and various patterns can be recognized and effectively treated.