Hollister's Soap-Free Stoma Cleaning Recommendation

Oct 29, 2020 11:07 pm

Hi gang,

A few weeks back I got an email from Hollister that had ostomy care tips. It was one of many they send me that almost always goes right in the round file, but for some reason I clicked on it. I can give you guys the link if you're interested, but there wasn't much new info there. Except one thing did catch my eye. Hollister recommends that you do not use any soap at all when you clean the skin around your stoma... just plain water. Maybe I'm living in a cave, but I've never heard that recommendation before. I've heard what soaps not to use, what soaps to use... but never not to use any soap. I'm not sure how I feel about that recommendation, but I'm giving it a try. I sort of feel using something to clean the skin should be used, and then just make sure it's fully removed... but it's hard to argue with my results so far. No real new skin issues since doing it, and because of that I've also stopped using ostomy powder, skin protectant wipes and only use topical steroid foam if there is an abrasion or such on some part of my skin... to knock it the hell out of there immediately. So at least initially... it's not making things worse... and that's always good. So I'll keep at it and let you know how it goes.

But I'm wondering if any of you had heard of the recommendation to not use any soap or cleaner on the skin under your barrier after you remove it? What say ye?



Oct 30, 2020 12:11 am

I don't remember if I heard that somewhere or not. But I just use water, then use the adhesive remover, and then wipe that off. Best wishes and stay safe.

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Oct 30, 2020 12:45 am

I have heard that but cannot tell you where. I do not follow that and use my normal soft soap shower gel. Mine has never caused me any issues. I do wear a two-piece so only actually get to shower without any flange about every 10 days. I also use an adhesive wipe remover if needed.
Hey, if it helps, I say go with it!

Oct 30, 2020 2:10 am

I've heard that from my ET nurses right from the start. They all said "less is more" - the less powder, fillers, wedges, etc., the better. I only use water to clean around my stoma and then spray and rub my skin around the stoma with hydrogen peroxide and let it sit for a bit, and then dry my skin with a paper towel and a blow dryer on low. My skin has been awesome for years now and I can't remember the last time I had a leak.

Past Member
Oct 30, 2020 2:23 am

Hi Bob,

I asked my wound care nurse about bags leaking a while back and they told me to use just water and the adhesive remover.

My routine goes: baby wipes, adhesive remover, shaving cream/shave, wipe dry, wipe good twice with water, put a dry paper towel over it, wave air over and put the bag on. Good for 5-6 days.

Take care, and do what works for you. ..mountain.

Words of Encouragement from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Past Member
Oct 30, 2020 2:50 am

When I first got my ostomy in 2003, the nurse at the hospital told me never to use anything but water. And that's pretty much what I've stuck to since. If things are very messy or there's too much adhesive buildup, I occasionally use sensitive skin baby wipes, followed by more water. I don't have too many skin issues unless I go too long between changes.

Oct 30, 2020 3:01 am

Yes, it feels weird but that is exactly what is recommended : ) The pouches don't like soap. Skin really doesn't like soap residue with pouch on top. I've only heard wound/ostomy nurses recommend one type of soap, and only for occasional use!

Oct 30, 2020 9:06 am

I use the Hollister CeraPlus skin barriers advertised on this site and they are great.  They require no adhesive, have easy-remove tape built on, are thinner than a dime, light weight, easy on/off, and I've never had a leak.  I've never used soap, just water with a few cotton balls, dry it with a tissue, slam bam thank you ma'am.  If you feel the need for soap, you might consider a bar of Ivory, as it doesn't have the additives that other commercial soaps use.  Stay well, everyone. P.S.  With this appliance, tho' it can accomodate a belt, I never use one.

ron in mich
Oct 30, 2020 10:45 am

Hi all, in my 35 years as an ostomate, I have only used warm water, never hot, with a soft face cloth.

Oct 30, 2020 11:34 am

Yep, only water here... that's always been the advice.

Oct 30, 2020 2:19 pm

It all seems such a long time ago now, but when I first started,  one manufacturer was giving out a clear cup-shaped device to half fill with water for the purpose of rinsing and cleaning the stoma. I have been using it ever since and found it to be idealfor the purpose it was intended. I also have a bath each morning and always soap myself all over ( including the stoma area) and rarely have any problems with this. Once again it is probably useful to simply experiment with what works or does not work for you.

Best wishes


Past Member
Oct 30, 2020 3:24 pm

I was told way back in 1989 to never use soap around my stoma. I have done on occasions, but my normal routine is just washing with water. I very rarely ever have any skin problems, whether that's down to just using water or just plain old good luck, I have no idea. All I know is it works for me.

Oct 30, 2020 6:24 pm

Hi guys,

Great info! I guess I just assumed everyone used soap because I was told to do so, and when I first found this site some of the first active posts I read were about advice on which soaps to use and which to avoid. Heck, I'm glad I asked!! Thanks much!!!!



Little Lulu
Oct 31, 2020 11:42 pm

Bob, I had my ileostomy four years ago. The ostomy nurse told me not to use soap, and I never have. I do use warm water, adhesive remover, stomahesive powder, and barrier wipes. I make sure that everything is clean and DRY, as I know you do, also. I have never had a leak in four years (I probably just jinxed myself!). 

Nov 01, 2020 2:44 am

Hi Lucy,

I doubt you jinxed yourself........rather you found what works for you and you've stuck with it.   That's awesome!   What I do seems to work, but I think it could always be better.   Thanks for sharing!



Nov 01, 2020 1:09 pm

Wow... I've never even given my routine any thought! I'm like a robot changing my appliance. But, no... I only use water. I use powder, dab, dry, ring, one piece bag. No removal wipes. It was great reading all the answers. Thanks.

Nov 01, 2020 2:19 pm

Hey Ritz Crackers.........how are you? Yeah, it seems there's as many different routines for barrier changes as there are people. When I left the hospital after getting my frontbutt it would have been nice to have been given a list of do's and don'ts (with why's and why nots).......but that wasn't the case. So how people have dealt and continue to deal with their ostomy problems on here is and was a real eye opener for me. Variety is the spice of life they say.........although I'm sure they weren't thinking along the lines we are. Lots of good info on here, it just needs to be stirred up sometimes.



Nov 02, 2020 3:40 am

Hi, Bob

For me, it's adhesive remover wipe, rinse/pat twice with sterile saline solution, 10-minute soak of healing ulcerations with 50-50 white vinegar/distilled water, air dry, prep ulcerations for appliance, apply appliance. No soap in sight...nor have I heard anyone until now ask "Soaps: Pro or Con?" Thanks for bringing up the topic!


Nov 02, 2020 3:01 pm

Hey Bob.... Doin just fine here. I was in the hospital forever after my surgery...that I just piped in on doing my own thing when crap needed to get done. I found little as possible is more than enough and my stoma loves me for it. Shaking, but hell, I can get through anything. I've been on an adventure in life to say the least. It's great to stir the pot on here or anywhere for that matter. I enjoy reading the forums and responses on here and have soaked in so much information. Things I never knew I could do before. What a waste of my summer though, as I was so nervous to swim until I found out here. We are still incredibly hot and too dry here....so wherever you are, please send some rain my way...or snow...I'll settle for a bucket! Stay safe and happy...the only way to fly....Ritz

Nov 04, 2020 5:13 pm

I was told to be careful with any soaps. When my surrounding wounds were finally closed, I took a shower without a wafer and it was so freeing! I did not use soap, but I washed my hair. Even though I rinsed really well and didn't put soap on the area around "Stella", I had the worst breakout under my after-shower wafer! It was open, painful, red...horrible! I came up with a way to deal with it and it healed, but it wasn't fun. I haven't been in the shower without Stella being in full gear since.

Nov 04, 2020 5:18 pm

Hi, I was told to only use Ivory soap and I have been using this for 7 years now with no problems with Hollister and now using ConvaTec... They said not to use other soaps with moisturizers because they cause issues with the barrier not sticking...


Nov 04, 2020 10:13 pm

Hi "O" Mates.... Marsha here. Re: Soap and cleaning skin around the stoma. I have had my ileostomy for over 55 years. Back in the "olden" days, there were no stoma therapists, and when surgeons were done with us, we were on our own, or visited by "visiting members of the local ostomy assoc.". No real training, just people who helped others. I was only 15 when I had my surgery, and I went back to taking baths when I was completely healed. But I ran into some problems with the soap I was using (Ivory soap) back then... When I finally got a "permanent appliance" instead of wearing the disposable plastic bags & flanges (cardboard), I found that soap, any soap, was interfering with the adhesion of the new (hard plastic face plate). More experienced ostomates advised me NOT to wash the area around the stoma with any kind of soap......and that's been the routine I've used since then. I used to love taking baths, but gave it up in favor of showers, for the same reason (soapy hot water) reduces the adhesion time even for the newer products out today. I use the solvent removers (to get the paste and powder off my skin) and then wash the skin with both hot water and cold water (to close the pores). Every once in a while, when I shower without my appliance on, I remember to be careful not to soak the stoma area with lotion-laden (for my very dry body skin) soap. So for those of you who have "heard rumors"......no soap was the rule of "thumb". For those of you who do take chances and use soap, just remember to clean the skin very well after. Best of luck to all... Marsha

Nov 05, 2020 6:38 pm

Never heard of no soap. I just pull the bag, flange, and ring off then clean up with a little TP then adhesive remover and jump into the shower. I use shampoo on my head and all over including stoma area (Tresemme, clean natural) to get any remaining bits of the ring off. Then get out and towel dry, then lay on bed and take care of any moisture with a face cloth. When dry, apply skin prep then ring and flange and bag. If I take a bath, I shower after to remove any residue from the bath products.

Nov 06, 2020 4:23 am

Hi guys,

Interesting how we're told different things, such as soap or no soap. The ostomy nurse told me to use a soap with no moisturizer and as little fragrance as possible when I got my ostomy. Basically, the simpler the soap, the better. I remember her saying not to use Ivory, but don't remember what she did say to use. But as I said, I've been changing my barrier without any soap for a couple of weeks now... and although it may be just a coincidence, my skin around my stoma is as healthy as it's ever been. I think it's too early for me to declare victory... but so far, the results are impressive! Thanks for the replies!



forever mountains
Dec 18, 2020 8:07 pm

My understanding is that it's not the soap itself, but the moisturizers in many soaps can be problematic.

They can prevent a good bond from forming.

I soap up in the shower with peppermint Dr. Bronner's and it feels good and clean without causing issues.

I feel like I need to do that because I have a coming-and-going poison ivy type reaction to the adhesives and my soap helps this.

Dec 19, 2020 4:46 am

Hi FM,

Yeah, I've about given up on trying to figure out why the skin around   my stoma does what it does.   It can be perfectly fine for weeks.......and then start having issues with redness, wetness, etc.   Talking to our local Nurse With an Ostomy, she turned me on to an antifungal that I now use.   I never thought about a skin fungus, but it's certainly possible.   Right now I use a concoction of Nystatin liquid, antifungal spray (liquid, not powdered) and Betamethasone on very specific skin issues. That is a bit extreme, but does keep my skin in usable condition.   I'm going to try the Dr Bonners!



Past Member
Dec 19, 2020 3:16 pm

I said in an earlier comment I've never used soap to wash the skin around my stoma in over 30 years, but recently my stoma nurse told me I should use Dermol 500 lotion to wash the skin. I did try for almost a month, but had too many problems with bags coming unstuck. So, back to plain old water now, and bags are staying on without any issues. The nurse did say, "Don't believe what you read about what soaps you can and can't use." She said you can use any, just make sure it all washes off in the shower. Showering bag-free is the best thing you can do to keep your skin healthy. As I always shower bagless, at least I've been doing one thing right until another nurse tells me it's the worst thing you can do. Lol.

Dec 20, 2020 4:11 pm

Hi Panther,

Why did that ostomy nurse say showering bag/barrier free is the worst thing you can do?   I do it when I can and always thought that was the best thing to do.   Now I'm curious.   But I think she's right about not believing what you read......although it's not about not believing.....it's about everyone's skin reacts differently to things and there is no one-size-fits-all with anything. I've tried more lotions, creams, ointments, sprays, soaps....you name it.   But they all have to be fully removed from the skin for anything to stick........so what's the point.   I really don't think our skin absorbs anything instantly (except maybe hydrocarbons like gasoline), so putting things on and then immediately wiping them off is only selling product.......it's not helping anyone.   But it really would be nice if all the ostomy professionals out there all got on the same page in terms of messaging and product information.   Thanks for the info.

Dec 20, 2020 4:26 pm


Go with your gut and what your skin says. I've showered without my appliance on several times, but I seem to make a mess as soon as I get out and dry off, then I'm in again, then out, then in! Do I need to go on... so I change it after I'm showered and clean. I find not drinking several hours before I change it back helps, but then I'm like a siphon! Oh, shit what was this topic?
My ostomy nurse told me less is better, so that's how I flow with it. I do, however, have to change my stuff every 3 days.

Dec 20, 2020 4:57 pm

Yo Ritz-A-Matic,

Remember in my note about hydration I mentioned we have a time when our bowels are mostly empty and we can easily hydrate? Well from that point on your bowels will very regularly continue to secrete bile (produced by our liver and stored in our gallbladder). The bile will collect in your bowels and when enough has collected it will show up in your bag as output. But it follows a very regular cycle of secretion, collection and then outputting. So if you find out what that rhythm is (for me it's almost exactly an hour in between) you can remove your barrier and jump in the shower right after you get a bile dump in your bag.....and know exactly how much time you have before the next dump. Assuming you don't eat or drink anything, of course. So for me, I hydrate from 2:30am to 3:30am....get a couple hours of shuteye....then get up at 7:30am knowing my bile will dump right around 8:00am (give or take 15 minutes). Sometimes I wake up just as it's finishing up dumping......or after it just occurred and have to wait another hour for the next dump to be sure of the timing. But knowing your timing allows me a full hour to shower without my barrier on, and then replace it without worries. So you can use that info to your advantage. Just figure out what your bowels timing happens to be and no more messes in the shower!