Carrying on from last weeks post on Urinary pH levels I have decided to write about urinary crystals for the 3rd instalment of #UnderstandingUrostomies series.
What are Urinary Crystals
Urinary crystals are usually associated with alkaline urine and are a build up of crystals around the urinary stoma or skin. This is one of the most difficult skin care problems for people with a Urostomy and can lead to your stoma becoming irritated and can cause bleeding.
Urine secretes a certain amount of salt but whether the urine is acidic or alkaline determines how much salt is deposited. Alkaline based urine secretes more salt than an acid-based urine.
How can you tell if you have Urinary Crystals
They look like crystals and are white/ light brown particles that feel gritty and granular. The amount of salt deposited on the stoma may vary from a few crystals to the whole stoma being covered completely. Some people may also experience some tenderness at the base of the stoma.
What causes the Urinary Crystals
- As mentioned Alkaline urine is the main contributor. Therefore it is important to keep your urine ACIDIC.
- Sometimes if the size of the hole in your pouch is too large this can occur.
- I read some literature that suggested there was a link between patients who DID NOT use a night bag and urinary crystals. The urine remains in the pouch and around the stoma when asleep and can cause the crystal deposits.
- Also, stoma hygiene and looking after the skin around the stoma could contribute to this.
How to prevent Urinary Crystals
- Keep your urine ACIDIC please check out last weeks post on how to do this.
- Correctly measure your stoma and cut your pouches to the correct size. Sometimes our stomas can change shape so you may need to revaluate the hole size after a couple of months.
- Change your pouching system at least twice a week this may reduce salt build up.
How to treat Urinary Crystals on your stoma or skin?
It is hard to remove all urinary crystals just by water. To achieve this you will have to do the following:
- Prepare a solution of half white vinegar and half water.
- Remove the Urostomy pouch and rinse the stoma with warm water.
- Take the vinegar and water solution and apply to the stoma for a couple of minutes.
- The urinary crystals will dissolve in the solution and the area will clear up.
- Once this is done rinse the area with warm water and continue to dry and apply your pouch as normal.
Also, I would like to point out that there are a few products out there for removing the urinary crystals like Hollister M9 odor cleaner/decrystaliser . This cleans, deodorises and helps break down and remove uric crystal build up. If this is a major problem for you then I would suggest you go back to your stoma nurse and discuss this product with them and see if you can get it on prescription. Recently the NHS are becoming very strict on what we can order and certain products they deem we could go without. Personally, I have not felt the need to try any other products because the vinegar solution worked really well for me but I would love to hear from you if you have tried this or others similar to this?
Urinary crystals on your stoma are mainly due to your urine being too alkaline and therefore more salt deposits. It is important to keep your urine ACIDIC however if you do suffer from urinary crystals the vinegar solution does work quite well. I have only had this a few times and that was during a hospital admission. Unfortunatly I did not take any pictures but the stoma nurses diagnosed it and after trying the vinegar solution it worked very well. If anybody has a picture of their stoma with crystals on it and are happy for me to put it here I would be very grateful :)
Also there is not much information on the internet so if anybody else has anything else to add please let me know :)