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Showering With an Ostomy | Ask Laura

Laura Cox
Ostomy Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
11/24/14  10:16 PM PST
Showering with an Ostomy

Q: How can I keep my pouch dry while showering with an ostomy?

I’m a new ostomate and I’m worried about getting my wafer wet. Will water effect the seal of my ostomy? Do you have any tips for me?

Thanks for your help and consideration,

Karen H.

A: Hi Karen,

It’s not necessary to keep your pouch dry while showering if you have a waterproof barrier. Pouching systems are designed to be showered in, but if it makes you more comfortable, you can put Tegaderm around your flange, or other types of waterproofing products.

If having a wet system bothers you, you can always change your bag after showering (just not every day).

Also, some people shower without a pouching system on. This can be absolutely liberating, just make sure to keep shampoo and conditioner away from your stoma. I prefer not to wash around the stoma with soap either, just use water. After you get out of the shower, you can dry your skin thoroughly and apply your pouching system like normal. If you would like to slow down your output before you shower with your pouch off, try eating a marshmallow 30 minutes beforehand (a study has been done on this!) or ask your doctor if you can take Imodium® before pouch changes.

I hope this answered your question!

Be happy and healthy!

-Laura

For more information, see related ostomy articles and resources here:

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My 89-year-old mother loves to swim but she has found that the pouch fills with water when she gets into the pool. What can we do to fix this?
Cathy
We recently had someone reach out to our Facebook community with a similar question, and several of our OstomyLife community members responded with their own advice.
 
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19 Comments

  1. Jane Black
    Posted December 5, 2014 at 6:44 pm PST

    What is Tegaderm and where is it purchased?? Jane

  2. Posted February 3, 2015 at 5:11 pm PST

    Tegaderm is like a thin, plastic film that sticks to your skin. We sell Tegaderm at Shield!

  3. Karen
    Posted December 10, 2014 at 9:29 pm PST

    I have had a Ileostomy for 46 years now, this was when the pouches were made of rubber and not throw always.
    I always shower without a pouch. I learned at the hospital to always shampoo first thing, Then only use bar Ivory soap for the rest on my shower.

  4. Lisbeth
    Posted December 16, 2014 at 11:27 pm PST

    For the Hollister 88400 product, how often should the bag be changed?
    In addition, the skin around the stoma is getting irritated with the adhesive, can I order a barrier or a paste to help…or just use a different product?

  5. Posted January 14, 2015 at 11:49 pm PST

    WOCNs suggest changing your bag once every 3-4 days. If your pouch is still good on the 4th day, I sometimes stretch my wear time to 5 days. It’s important to note that as soon as your skin underneath the flange starts to itch persistently, it’s time to change your system.

    For the skin irritation, you could try a barrier wipe. This will add a layer of protection between your skin and the adhesive of your flange. If you don’t already use stoma powder, that would be a good product to help with irritation as well. If the skin irritation continues, make an appointment with your WOCN. Sometimes skin responds poorly to a certain type of adhesive or the waterproof barrier around the flange. Your nurse can help determine if you need to try a new product or a product without a waterproof barrier. Good luck!

  6. Rebecca Rose
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 12:21 am PST

    I,m having problems with my bag leaking. i have to change every 10 hrs. ive tried the wax ring the paste different style bags. has anyone had this problem its very frustating not to mention expensive. Please help
    Rebecca

  7. Posted February 3, 2015 at 12:51 am PST

    Hi Rebecca,
    I have a couple suggestions. First, make sure your skin is clean and dry before applying your ostomy bag. I usually put stoma powder on the skin that will be underneath the flange. I then dust off most of the powder and only leave powder that naturally sticks to the skin.
    Ask your WOCN about a convex flange if you have not tried one. Sometimes a stoma does not stick out far enough for a flat flange to stick properly.
    Also, sometimes the problem lies in the application of the ostomy pouch. After applying the pouch try to put your hands over the flange or use a blow dryer to gently heat the flange to your skin. This helps create a better seal!
    If none of these suggestions work, please contact your WOCN or doctor!
    Hope you’re healthy and happy,
    Laura

  8. Howard
    Posted April 23, 2015 at 3:09 pm PST
  9. Posted May 5, 2015 at 8:09 pm PST

    Hi! The articles you’ve referenced still mention the diuretic effects of coffee (meaning it makes you urinate more frequently than normal, which in turn leads to losing more fluids than we’d like). It’s also important to note that I was focusing on advice for people with ostomies. I read into the research and it doesn’t look like any of the studies have tested their work on people with ostomies. People with ostomies are more susceptible to dehydration than people with intact GI tracts. Something that may be only mildly dehydrating to people without ostomies may pose a harsher effect for people with ostomies. 1 or 2 cups of coffee a day are okay, but we are just suggesting that you drink 8 glasses of other fluid because caffeine does have mildly dehydrating effects.

  10. tamisha hill
    Posted May 15, 2015 at 9:05 pm PST

    Hello I.would like to know if I could swim with the bag in or if there are places that I could order them from. I also would like to know what are other ways of eating healthy since if u eat something like I love ice cream it goes straight through me like water.

  11. Posted May 19, 2015 at 3:46 pm PST

    Hi Tamisha,
    Here is an article I wrote on swimming with an ostomy that answers your question: http://www.shieldhealthcare.com/community/ostomylifestyle/2014/09/22/swimming-with-an-ostomy/

    In regards to ice cream, sugary foods usually pass through fairly quickly. Try eating something bready (like toast or a bagel) a bit before you have ice cream to help slow it down.

  12. Arles
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 11:37 am PST

    Hi Laura
    I have a urinary diversion ostomy and use both a skin protective wipe and stoma powder. My question is: Do you apply the powder first or the skin protective wipe first? I have been applying the powder first but don’t know if this is best for controlling irritation. I change my pouch every three days and by that time I’m getting a lot of itchy irritation. Thanks for your advice.

  13. Posted December 28, 2015 at 11:47 am PST

    Hi Arles,

    Great question!
    Since you are getting itchy irritation, I would first try only using stoma powder. Apply it, and brush all excess off, except where the powder sticks naturally (to the weepy areas of the skin). I found personally that the skin barrier was actually making my seal weaker, so you may want to try eliminating it from your pouching process once and see how it goes. We all have different skin chemistry, so products work differently for each of us.
    If that does not work, there’s a technique called “crusting” that you may want to try. You apply powder first, then apply skin barrier, apply powder again, and re-apply skin barrier. It creates a protective layer between your pouch and your skin.
    Please let me know if either of these suggestions help!
    I hope you’re happy and healthy!

  14. Nelli
    Posted May 18, 2016 at 8:32 pm PST

    When I had my surgery (have an ileostomy) the Dr’s told me to never use anything except Ivory bar soap. It has no perfumes or lotions that would lessen the effectiveness of a base (or bag) sticking.

  15. Posted May 20, 2016 at 10:51 am PST

    Ivory bar soap is a great option to not interfere with the seal of the pouching system!

  16. Amanda
    Posted March 2, 2017 at 2:49 pm PST

    Laura, I really admire you and what you do for other ostomates. I have a colostomy (only about 5 1/2 weeks old) because of incontinence 13 years after an injury during childbirth. I would like nothing more than to somehow do what you do and help people. I would love to do speaking engagements or something like what you do…answer questions and write articles!! How did you get involved doing this stuff? I would love this do something similar!
    Thanks!

  17. Posted March 20, 2017 at 9:48 am PST

    Hi Amanda, thank you so much for reaching out! I actually started by just creating a YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/ostomystory). The rest followed after I had enough subscribers! You could also start a blog or talk to your local doctors/surgeons and volunteer to become an ostomy visitor/volunteer! There are many ways to get involved and support others! I’m glad you’re thinking about this stuff and giving back to the community! 🙂 Good luck to you!

  18. Diana
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 5:24 pm PST

    Hello, I have a question about showering with the ostomy bag off. I have had my ostomy for 2 years now. I shower with my bag off most of the time but then it gets active and the drain gets clogged. What is the solution because I want to be able to take a shower with it off but it gets annoying and gross. Does this happen to anyone else ? I guess the other option is to change it out of the shower.

  19. Aimee Sharp
    Posted November 7, 2017 at 1:35 pm PST

    Hi Diana! Thank you for your comment. Great question. You can eat a marshmallow or two about a half an hour before you shower to help slow down output while you are changing your pouch, either inside the shower or out. We didn’t have this tip as part of this article, but we have added it now. Try experimenting to see how many marshmallows and when you eat them helps slow your output. You can also ask your doctor if you can take Imodium® before pouch changes for the same result. Best of luck, and thank you for your question! -Aimee, Shield HealthCare

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