Showering with an Ostomy | Ask Laura

Laura Cox, LPC
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 affect 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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27 comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

    1. 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!

  3. 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

    1. 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

    1. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

    1. 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!

  8. 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.

    1. 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

  9. I have a concern in regards to a new relationship with someone whom I just discovered has an ostomy bag. This is all new to me and I guess my question is how do I adjust to dating someone with an ostomy bag?

    1. Hi Leigh! First off, thanks for doing some research about ostomies! That’s a great way to start. We posed your question to our Facebook and Twitter communities, and got some great answers, which you can find here and here. Basically, the advice was that it doesn’t take a lot of adjustment, it just becomes a new normal. Educate yourself, be open, and know that having an ostomy doesn’t hold someone back from living their life how they want to. Hope that helps, and feel free to ask more questions! -Aimee, OstomyLife

  10. Is the any products that will protect your outer clothing ftom ostomy y leaks. I have had a leak always under the wafer onto my clothes. This was very embarrassing. In order to avoid embarrassment, do the wraps protect your outside clothes?

    1. Hi Amy! Thank you for your comment. We can understand that it would be very frustrating to be having leaks on your clothing all the time. But I don’t think wraps are the answer, because you really shouldn’t be having leaks at all. Besides creating laundry, they cause your skin to breakdown. We would recommend trying a barrier ring to try and fill in any spots around your stoma that might create a leak under the wafer. Also, if there are any places on the skin around your stoma that aren’t flat, stoma paste can do a great job of filling in and caulking those spots. You can find great examples and instructions for those use of those products and more that will help stop leaks in our recorded webinar with WOCN Joy Hooper (link cued to the section about creating a good seal). Best of luck and we hope there’s less laundry and skin irritation in your future! -Aimee, Shield HealthCare

  11. Hi

    I am a Neurosurgeon and I wear a stoma bag. I have innovated a special design for suits for men and women who have different kinds of Ostomy/stoma.

    Please let me know if you are interested as I can license it. If not, kindly suggest few companies/firms that I could approach

    Thanks

    Regards
    Dr.T. S. (Siva)
    Neurosurgery

    1. Hi there. Thank you for your offer. We can suggest a few companies that you could approach. Key manufacturers would be a good idea, like Hollister, ConvaTec or Coloplast. Best of luck. -Aimee, Shield HealthCare

  12. I didn’t receive much instruction, unfortunately, when I was discharged from hospital with an ostomy. I have had mine for about three months and have mostly learned from trial and error. Here is my two cents:
    All stomas are shaped differently. Mine is football/lip shaped. I was cutting my wafer thing round and so I had a LOT of leaks around my wafer at first. I was lucky enough to encounter an ostomy nurse during a surgical consult. With her help, I changed to a convex bag, began using a wax barrier ring, and started using an ostomy belt. No more leaks!
    In the shower or during changes, I keep an old plastic cup lined with a plastic bag to catch any sudden outputs. When finished, I toss the bag, rinse the cup. You can also use solo cups and throw them away after emptying into the toilet.
    I also use a skin barrier wipe when I change my wafer. I first apply stoma powder around the edges of my stoma, then use the wipe where the wafer adheres to my skin. I also have some skin tack liquid (like spirit gum) that I swab over the edges just as an added protection.
    Hope this helps…the best advice I can give is to find an ostomy nurse to help you adjust. I still have to be careful at night that I don’t accidentally pop the bag open around the snap area in my sleep by turning over, but the belt helps that. Also, it does help to empty it frequently, even if it just has a little bit in it.

  13. Hi I am hoping that someone can help with ballooning, I have had stoma bags for 10 years and in the last 2 weeks I have had problems with ballooning and I am restricting myself from leaving home as the ballooning sometimes bursts my bag and I have to return home. Please I am requiring any assistance or suggestions on how to reduce this problem. I have also watched my diet and cut out a lot of the foods that could cause ballooning but it is now going on to the third week, it seems to be getting worse.

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