Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is there an ostomy association I can join?

There are several ostomy associations or patient support groups that you could join. For instance:

Urostomy Association
Colostomy Association
Ileostomy Association

Q: Are stoma pouches available in various sizes?

Yes. There are various size ranges available. Speak to your healthcare professional for details.

Q: How can I ensure a longer wear time from my stoma pouch/flange?

You can achieve a longer wear time for all flanges by ensuring a good seal around the stoma, with no more than a 1-2mm gap between the stoma and the flange.

Q: What is the average wear time for a flange?

In general stoma pouches are usually changed every 1–3 days, however this can be different for ileostomists, colostomists and urostomists. The output is more corrosive for urostomists and ileostomists, and so may require more regular changing.

Q: What should my stoma look like?

A stoma looks like a small `spout’ and is deep pink in colour, similar to the inside of the mouth. In the first 6-8 weeks post-surgery, your stoma will gradually shrink and may reduce in size. Check it weekly with a measuring guide to make sure the hole in your stoma pouch is a snug fit. If you are unsure of the right size for you, contact your healthcare professional for advice.

Q: My stoma is prone to bleeding. What should I do?

Bleeding from your stoma is normal when wiping and cleaning, however, if blood is present in your stoma pouch then please discuss this with your healthcare professional. Additionally, if the edge of your stoma is tender, painful and/or bleeding please contact your healthcare professional for a clinical review.

Q: My stoma lies in a dip or crease. What should I do?

This is quite common. If you are experiencing leaks and sore skin then contact your healthcare professional for advice.

Q: My stoma is retracted. What should I do?

This is sometimes a difficult stoma issue to manage. Many healthcare professionals will advise wearing a convex stoma pouch to encourage the stoma to protrude but you should not change to a convex stoma pouch without seeking advice from your healthcare professional.

Q: What can I do about an odd shaped stoma?

There are stoma pouches with different shaped adhesives to accommodate an irregularly shaped stoma. If you experience any difficulty in applying your stoma pouch, please contact your healthcare professional.

Q: What is a parastomal hernia?

When a stoma is brought out to the surface it must pass through the muscles of the abdominal wall, thus a potential site of weakness is created. In the ideal situation, the abdominal wall muscles form a snug fit around the stoma opening. However, sometimes the muscles come away from the edges of the stoma creating a stoma hernia where there is no muscle. This is sometimes referred to as a parastomal hernia. Factors that can contribute to causing a parastomal hernia include coughing, being overweight, or having developed an infection in the wound at the time the stoma was made.

The development of a parastomal hernia is often gradual, with the area next to the stoma stretching and becoming weaker over time. This weakness, or gap, means that straining, coughing, sneezing or standing up, can cause the area of the abdomen next to the stoma to bulge, or can cause the whole stoma to protrude as it is pushed forward by the rest of the abdominal contents behind it. As with all hernias, the size will increase as time goes by.

Regardless of inconvenience or pain, hernias are evidence of a weakness in the abdominal wall and should not be ignored simply because they might not be painful. If you have concerns regarding a possible hernia, talk to your healthcare professional.

Q: I have a hernia. Is there any special advice?

A bulge around the stoma may indicate a hernia. Many people with a hernia find that wearing a support belt helps as it will offer extra support. Support garments are available and for further advice talk to your healthcare professional.

Q: I worry about odour. What can I do?

Your pouch may be fitted with a filter which should prevent most of the odours. If you notice a smell from your pouch you should check it, as there may be a leak under the flange and the pouch will need changing. If you are concerned, speak to your healthcare professional and they can advise on ways of dealing with odours.

Q: I suffer from sore skin. Are there any tips?

If there is no leak present, preventing sore skin can be managed with short term use of skin barrier products. Sore skin associated with pouch leaks can be caused by wearing a stoma pouch that exposes more than 1-2 mm of skin surrounding the stoma. To ensure an accurate fit, you may want to stand in front of a mirror to apply the stoma pouch.

Q: I often find it difficult to get my stoma pouch to stay on my body. Am I doing anything wrong?

Make sure the skin is completely dry before applying your stoma pouch and do not use creams on the skin as these can interfere with adhesion. It is also important to ensure your stoma pouch fits snugly around your stoma.

Q: What can I do about leaks?

Leaks can occur for a variety of different reasons, which can include:

  • Stoma pouch hole is too large – this needs to be a snug fit
  • Stoma pouch is applied incorrectly – this can be due to creases in adhesive and abdominal skin behind the pouch. To combat this, the skin needs to be gently stretched
  • Skin is too moist – make sure the skin is dry before applying the stoma pouch
  • Stoma is in a dip or crease in the abdomen – try paste, washers or different pouches to help the adhesive gently conform to the body’s shape. Speak to your healthcare professional for advice.
  • Stoma is flat or retracted – you may need a stoma pouch with a convex flange. Speak to your healthcare professional for advice.
Q: What can I do if I experience a skin reaction?

It is very rare to have a reaction to a stoma pouch, as the materials used in their manufacture are constantly tested and evaluated for skin friendliness. If you have suffered from a skin reaction, the first thing you should do is check that you have not used something different in your normal routine e.g. change of soap or barrier wipe. If there is no difference in your normal procedure, you may need to change your product. If you are concerned, speak to your healthcare professional.

Q: What can I do about ‘pancaking’?

Pancaking happens when a vacuum occurs in the stoma pouch and the pouch sticks together preventing the contents from reaching the bottom of the pouch. Faeces remain at the top of the pouch and the filter may become blocked. In some cases, the pouch may also be forced off the body. One tip is to blow air into the stoma pouch before you fit it, which will help to prevent a vacuum from occurring. A drop of baby oil opposite the opening can also sometimes help the output to slide to the bottom of the stoma pouch. Some people also find that rolling up toilet paper to form a tight cylinder and dropping it into the stoma pouch helps to avoid the problem.

Q: How do I dispose of the contents of my stoma pouch?

Stoma pouches can be disposed of in many ways. If you have a drainable pouch, this should be emptied before removing. Wrap the entire soiled stoma pouch and dispose of it in a refuse bag for waste disposal. Some district councils have a clinical waste collection team, so you should check with them.

Q: How soon after ostomy surgery can I return to a normal diet?

When reintroducing a more varied diet following ostomy surgery, it is a good idea to begin slowly, depending upon your recovery and/or other medical complications, adding back one new food at a time.

Q: Are there any foods I should avoid eating?

Most ostomists can eat a very varied diet, leaving out only the things which cause problems for them as individuals. However, as a rule, ileostomists should avoid foods that could cause blockage, such as sweetcorn, mushrooms, celery and nuts.

Q: Will spicy foods cause any damage to my stoma?

If you can tolerate spicy foods through your digestive system, the stoma is tough enough to tolerate spicy foods too. However, you should be aware that following a spicy meal your stoma output may increase.

Q: How will different foods affect me after ostomy surgery?

Even if there is no food passing through your digestive tract, gas and digestive juices will continue to be produced. It is recommended that you eat small meals to keep something in the gut.

Q: Will my ileostomy continue to produce output even if I do not eat?

Even if there is no food passing through your digestive tract, gas and digestive juices will continue to be produced. It is recommended that you eat small meals to keep something in the gut.

Q: What is meant by a ‘low-residue’ diet?

‘Low-residue’ refers to a dietary regime which eliminates food that is bulk forming, hard to digest or high in fibre.

Q: How can I help settle down excessive wind?

Wind is a problem that most ostomists experience at some time or other. There are a number of foods you can eat which can help settle down flatulence, such as natural yoghurt, charcoal biscuits, fennel tea and peppermint oil capsules.

Q: Can I swim whilst wearing an ostomy stoma pouch?

Yes, it is fine to swim whilst wearing a stoma pouch. In fact, many ostomy products are designed to be particularly suitable for use whilst bathing or swimming. If you use a stoma pouch with a filter, a patch can be placed over the charcoal filter to protect it while you are in the water.

Q: Will I be able to wear the clothes that I have now or will I have to purchase looser garments?

With very few exceptions, you can expect to be able to continue wearing the clothes you wore before surgery. This includes tight clothing and bathing suits, as long as you feel comfortable.

Contact us

If we don’t currently have an answer available to your questions, please contact our Customer Service Advisors who will be happy to help you answer any questions you may have.


2 Henry Lock Way
West Sussex
BN17 7FB

Freephone: 0800 378 846
Tel: 01903 731 244
Fax: 01903 723 089

Email: caring@fittleworth.com

Opening hours

Monday-Friday 8am-8pm
Saturday 9am-1pm


Fittleworth Scotland
Unit 1, Riverside Business Park
45 Moffat Street
G5 0PD

Freephone: 0800 783 7148
Fax: 0141 429 5064
Email: scotlandcustomerservices@fittleworth.com

Opening hours

Monday-Friday: 9am-5pm

NB: For calls outside of these opening hours, you may be redirected to the national number.