Helpful Tips For Everyday Stoma Care

Gina Flores
Caregiver Advocate | Shield HealthCare
11/08/11  8:56 AM PST
Tips for Stoma Care

Tips for Stoma Care

  • Change your ostomy pouch on a routine basis, before it leaks. You will get more comfortable with this after you learn what works best for you.
  • Twice a week changes are considered usual. Seven days is generally recommended as the maximum length of time you should wear a single skin barrier.
  • If your wear time becomes erratic or unpredictable, consult your ostomy nurse.
  • Pouch wear time may decrease during warmer seasons when you are perspiring more or during times of increased activity. This is normal, so anticipate and plan appropriately.
  • When traveling, plan ahead. Some suggestions include: take extra ostomy supplies, pack your ostomy products in your carry-on bag when flying, pre-cut your cut-to-fit skin barriers so you don’t need to carry a scissors on the plane and obtain a travel ID which explains your need for specific medical supplies when traveling.
  • You can shower or bathe with your pouch on. If you use a two-piece pouching system keep your pouch on during the shower. Some find it convenient to switch to a different pouch for the shower so that the pouch you wear stays dry.
  • When emptying your pouch it is not necessary to rinse it out. A lubricating pouch deodorant may make emptying easier.
  • Do not put oils or cooking sprays in your ostomy pouch.
  • Store your unused ostomy supplies in a cool, dry place.

Pouching Tips

  • Prepare your new pouching system before you remove your used pouch.
  • Empty your pouch when 1/3 to 1/2 full of discharge or gas. Do not let the pouch overfill.
  • Empty your pouch before activities and before bedtime.
  • If you notice that you have a lot of gas in your pouch (colostomy or ileostomy) you may want to consider a pouch with a built-in filter.
  • The best time for a routine pouching system change is in the morning when the stoma is less active and before you have had anything to eat or drink.
  • After you apply your skin barrier, press it gently against your skin for about 30-60 seconds. Gentle pressure and warmth help with the initial contact.
  •  If you wear a two-piece pouching system, try placing the skin barrier on your body in a diamond shape for a smoother fit.

Skin Care Tips

  • For most people, water is sufficient for cleaning the skin. Remember to wash your hands after changing or emptying your pouch.
  • If soap is needed, use a mild soap without lotions or creams that may leave a residue or film on your skin. This can interfere with the adhesive.
  • Skin prepping wipes used under extended wear skin barriers may decrease your wear time.
  • If you use an adhesive remover wipe, wash your skin with soap and water. Rinse and dry thoroughly before applying your next skin barrier.
  • Things NOT recommended for routine skin care around your stoma include:
    • soap with lotion
    • creams
    • lotions
    • powders
    • baby wipes
    • isopropyl alcohol
    • steroidal medications or ointments.
  • No skin irritation is “normal.” If you discover you have red, broken or irritated skin, seek the assistance of a qualified healthcare professional like a Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse (WOCN).

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

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