Southampton researchers use New Zealand honey to help people with stomas

Researchers in Southampton are leading a national study into whether or not stoma bags made with honey from New Zealand can reduce skin irritation.

The devices are used to collect waste products which cannot be passed through the body naturally following surgery to divert one end of the large or small intestine through an opening in the abdomen.

Although most stoma bags include the gelling agent hydrocolloid, which acts as a barrier to protect the skin from bodily fluids and substances, some patients become sensitive to it and suffer skin problems around the site of the opening at some stage.

Now, experts at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Southampton are investigating if stoma products which contain manuka honey can prevent complications.

“Good skin care around stoma sites is important to reduce the risk of skin problems but, at the moment, around 80% of people with stomas will experience skin problems,” explained Dr David Voegeli, an associate professor of nursing and study lead.

“Honey is thought to help reduce the inflammation that can cause skin problems and moisturises the skin, which can provide added protection.

“However, there is not any firm evidence to demonstrate this as of yet so we are hoping this study will prove whether or not this is the case and help to ensure patients have access to the best option for them.”

Dr Voegeli and his team are looking to recruit 30 healthy individuals with stomas to participate in the study, which will take place at the NIHR Wellcome Trust Southampton Clinical Research Facility, Southampton General Hospital.

Participants will trial both the standard and honey stomas over a period of eight weeks following a screening test to determine eligibility.

Dr Voegeli added: “Recruitment to the study has been slow, so we really need more people to come forward so we can get things underway and complete our assessment as quickly as possible.

“If you use stoma products or have friends or family who do, please get in touch or pass the message on.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the study can find out more via the NIHR Wellcome Trust Southampton Clinical Research Facility on 023 8120 4989 or by email at

Posted on Friday 2 September 2016