FAQ Swimming with an Ostomy | Ask Laura

Laura Cox, LPC
Ostomy Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
05/30/14  8:57 PM PST
FAQ swimming with an ostomy

In this FAQ swimming with an ostomy, learn more about waterproof barriers and other ways to make sure you’re good to go in the pool.

Q: Swimming with an ostomy seems really scary. Now that summer is here, may I swim in a pool? If so, will my ostomy bag be affected by chlorine in the water? Should I get one of those “caps” for the stoma – is that a better way to go?


A: Hi! You may swim in a pool! If your ostomy wafer has a waterproof barrier you can go in the pool without any additional products.

If your ostomy wafer does not have a waterproof barrier you can use barrier strips over your ostomy wafer. My absolute favorite product (although it’s not necessary all the time) is the SureSeal. HERE is a full blog post I did about swimming with an ostomy.  I also made a video about swimming with an ostomy:

I have found that the chlorine water does not affect my ostomy bag at all. It’s not necessary to get a stoma “cap” but you can if you would feel more comfortable with it! If you have a colostomy, a stoma cap is a great option, but if you have an ileostomy or urostomy, stoma caps aren’t very functional since both ileostomies and urostomies output frequently. Instead of a stoma cap, you may want to look into a mini-drainable pouch.

Happy swimming!


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

Serving Medicare Ostomates Nationwide
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?
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.
Hopefully you and your mother will find their answers helpful ...

Recent OstomyLife


  1. I just wanted to say that, although none of my patients at this time have an ostomy, this is a great service to provide and as an R.N. who has not taken care of ostomy patients in quite a few years, I read the answers just so I will know! Laura is a great representative for this community of patients.

  2. Thanks Laura for your video which helped me a lot, for the last 10 years
    I’m wearing ostomy pouch and was under the impression that I’m alone.

    Brava strips of Sure seal available with Shield

    Thanks for sharing

    Abdul R Adenwala

  3. I would NEVER EVER wear my bag in a pool. I know I was told when I first got mine that it was OK to swim. There is nothing more horrible than having an accident in public. My worst was at Disneyland. The bag came completely off my body. I’ve had most accidents at home. Getting in the pool is a big risk in my opinion.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your accidents. I’ve had many as well, the worst was during a Chemistry Lab my Junior year of college. It was a Lab Practical so I had to stay and complete my lab before I got to go home and change! Even with all my scary, frustrating experiences, I get in the pool. I really love swimming and didn’t want my ostomy to discourage me from doing something I love! No accidents in the pool in 2 years (knock on wood)!

  4. I read the article on swimming with a colostomy and a “stoma cap” was mentioned. I looked in your products and see you have them, but it doesn’t say what and how they are to be used. I want something to place over the stoma after getting out of the shower before putting the appliance on. I know I could avoid leaks by getting in the shower the first thing in the morning, but often I don’t until after coffee. Is the stoma cover used for this purpose?

    1. Hi Dolyce,
      A stoma cap is meant to attach to your flange to just be a small cover for your stoma when out in public. It does not go over your stoma before applying the appliance. I don’t know of any products that you can place over your stoma, but I’ve heard of some people using a used toilet paper roll to place over their stoma. I also use a “volcano trick” as I call it. I wrape toilet paper or gauze around the stoma to catch any stool that comes out.
      I hope this helps!

  5. Hi I was wondering what it was like when you first got your colonoscopy bag, I just had one put in recently and I was wondering what advice you could give me about it.

    1. Hi Andreina, I hope you are doing well! You are probably a seasoned pro by now! One tip I can still give you, even after you’ve been living with your stoma for a few months, is to contact other people with ostomies. I learn something new every time I go to a support group or talk to a friend about how he or she does things with a stoma. I would also so, education is one of the best ways to take care of yourself. If you have any concerns, research and talk to your doctor. We at Shield HealthCare are happy to answer any questions you may have. Contact me directly at asklaura@shieldhealthcare.com
      Hope you’re feeling well!

  6. Regarding swimming or any highly active activity. I plan ahead by not eating at least 2-4 hours before the activity and empty the pouch before you begin the task.
    For water activities I wear a waterproof belts like the Stealth belt. Without it my pouch fabric get wet and take too much time to dry before I can put my clothes back on. When I take a shower at home or gym, I put a shower cap on my pouch to keep it dry.
    For running activities, the last thing I want is gas or output too much that it becomes a bouncing ball.
    So, plan ahead if you can. With an ostomy, you do have to plan ahead if you want to avoid accidents.

    1. Thank you for sharing your tips Ron! Planning ahead before engaging in activities is a great idea! I always make sure I hydrate very well a couple hours before, and take Imodium (ask your doctor if you can) before I run, swim, hike, or bike! I love the shower cap idea! I’ve never heard of that. I blow dry my pouch with a hair dryer.

  7. I’m going to be in a wedding in August. I’m a bit nervous about standing in front of everyone b/c of my new iliostomy. The wedding is at 5:30 and I thought if I didn’t eat after 11 I might nit have a px with output?

    1. Hi Galyn, I would not advise not eating, as you may feel faint. I would say that you should ask your doctor about taking Imodium if you’re concerned about having a lot of output. Also, you can try to eat things that slow down your digestion, like mashed potatoes, marshmallows, bananas, toast, etc. Also, if you are worried your ostomy pouch will show through your dress, here’s a link all about dressing with an ostomy: http://www.shieldhealthcare.com/community/ostomylife/2015/02/21/dressing-with-an-ostomy/
      I would also suggest watching the video (linked in the article). I hope this was helpful! Please let us know if you have any other questions!
      Good luck!

    1. Hi Griffith. Thank you for your question. Almost all bags are waterproof. That is not something you generally need to worry about. What you do need to check is if your wafer has a waterproof barrier. You can check this by doing research on your brand of wafer, or seeing how it does in the shower or bath. Last, if you have a filter, make sure that you cover it (sometimes the pouches with filters come with stickers to put over the filter). If the pouch filter gets wet, it will stop working. You can find more answers in Laura’s article about swimming with an ostomy (different from this FAQ piece). Please let us know if you have any other questions. Thank you. -Aimee, Shield HealthCare

    1. Hi Douglas! Thanks for your question! In Laura’s video about swimming with an ostomy, she says that salt water does affect her wear time more than chlorinated water – with salt water she has to change her wafer a day or two earlier than she would have if she hadn’t gone in the water. With chlorinated water, it’s maybe a day earlier if at all. Hope that helps, and feel free to let us know if you have any other questions! -Aimee, OstomyLife

  8. If while swimming & splashing at the ocean, would it be a problem if seawater got thru the barrier and on to the stoma? Could you even go in the ocean without a bag, with an exposed stoma?

    1. Hi Greg! Good question. Lots of people with a stoma go swimming in the ocean every day. Ideally, the seal would stay tight and you wouldn’t have any seawater get through to your stoma – but that’s not because the seawater would be the problem – more that that would mean you’d have a leak. As for going in the ocean with an exposed stoma, well, I can’t say we’d recommend it. Any membrane exposed to seawater is liable to contract an infection, but it (supposedly) wouldn’t be any less safe than, say, going in the ocean with a cut on your foot. The salt in the water should help keep down the incidence of infection, but it depends on where and when you go (for instance, it’s not recommended to go to the beach after it rains because of the increased bacteria that has washed into the ocean from the gutters and such). But again, lots of ostomates get in the ocean everyday without issue. Laura has an article about exercising where she discusses boogie boarding. Best of luck and let us know how it goes! -Aimee, Shield HealthCare

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