Swimming with an Ostomy

Laura Cox, LPC
Ostomy Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
09/22/14  11:07 PM PST
Swimming with an Ostomy

The idea of submerging your new ostomy in water can sound scary. The thought of having a leak in a pool is terrifying. This was one of my biggest concerns when I first got my ostomy. I didn’t even know what to expect when showering! I asked my surgeon about swimming, and he said to wait until my incisions healed. He told me, “After your incisions heal, swimming shouldn’t be a problem!” He was right. With the correct supplies, swimming with an ostomy can be a fun, carefree experience!

Click on the button below to watch my video about swimming with an ostomy:

The first important thing to know is if your wafers have a waterproof barrier. If it does not, or if your skin reacts poorly to a waterproof barrier, you have some other options! I know some people who are sensitive to waterproof barriers. They use Brava Strips around the barrier to allow their ostomy flange to be more “waterproof.” There is also a product called Sure Seal. It is a thin, plastic cover that goes around your wafer and onto your skin. I absolutely love this product, and would highly recommend it as an option. It is important to take the Sure Seal off after you swim. I left mine on for a couple days and developed a mild yeast infection underneath. Now I generally swim without any extra products.

After you swim, you should check to see how the water affected your ostomy wafer. I have never had to change my ostomy directly after swimming, but ocean water seemed to decrease my wear time by about one day. I haven’t noticed a decrease in wear time from freshwater or pool water. Just in case, I always pack an emergency kit of ostomy supplies to bring to the pool or beach with me.

Also, it’s important to note that all of us have different comfort levels with revealing we have an ostomy. If you are not comfortable showing your ostomy when you swim you can order an ostomy swim wrap or other ostomy swim wear from Ostomy Secrets. I found a flattering one piece suit with side and back cut-outs from H&M. There are also numerous tankini and high waist bikini bottom options as well. For men, a swim wrap or a t-shirt will help conceal your ostomy.

With the right supplies and clothing options, swimming with an ostomy can be a great way to relax, get a work out in, or play around with the family.

You can also watch my video about swimming with an ostomy here. -Laura

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

Serving Medicare Ostomates Nationwide
My family and I are taking a road trip. I wanted to know what accessories should be used when starting to drive or ride in a car. Should I use something to cover the stoma?
Great question! It all depends on if the seat belt is coming in contact with your stoma.
If the seat belt does not come in contact with your stoma, no additional accessories are needed. If the seat belt does come in contact, you can use a stoma guard or a seat belt cover to protect the stoma

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  1. this is wonderful info!!! My boyfriend and I have six kids and he sat out today while we swam in fear that his flange would effect his ability to swim (he loves swimming). We felt so bad. Now he knows that it’s okay!!! Thank you!

    1. Hi Tracy! Thanks for asking. We asked our OstomyLife Facebook community where they buy their Sure Seals from, and one of our fans answered: “Shoppers home health 🙂 SureSeals are amazing!” Hope that helps, and feel free to check out our Facebook page for more info: https://www.facebook.com/ostomylife Thanks! -Aimee, Shield HealthCare

  2. Thank You so much. I have been struggling to gain enough confidence to both swim and exercise. I have a fear that I will clog my stoma when I exercise. Should this be a concern, or just an unnecessary fear?

    1. Hi Dawn. Thank you for your question! I would suggest asking your doctor when you can go back to exercising after surgery, but there is no reason your stoma would clog when you exercise. I would suggest avoiding odd positions in yoga that may cause pain, and also to start slow and build your strength back up in order to help with endurance and decrease the risk of a hernia, but other than that, I would seek permission from your doctor, then enjoy exercising! -Laura

  3. Can I soak in the bathtub with Epsom salt with an ostomy?? It’s been 6 months since my surgery and I miss soaking my sore muscles. Can I soak in a hot bathtub at all??

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