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Keeping Your Stoma Clean & Healthy

Woman shoppingBathing & Showering with a Stoma

You can bathe or shower without a stoma appliance if you wish. A good soak in the bath will give the skin around the stoma a chance to rest.

However, be aware that your stoma might function while you are bathing or showering, especially if you are an ileostomist.

If you bathe with a stoma pouch, do not try to remove it immediately afterwards as the adhesive is stronger when wet and becomes harder to remove.

When bathing, do not use bubble bath or bath oils as they may stop the stoma pouch from sticking securely afterwards and can irritate your stoma. If using a power shower, be aware of the water jets as these can be very powerful and can cause problems if directed onto your stoma, especially at close range.

What do you clean a stoma with?

It is important to avoid anything that may irritate the skin around your stoma. Don’t use strong soaps, especially ones that contain fragrance and moisturisers. It is recommended that you clean the skin with a soft, dry wipe that has been dipped in warm tap water, although you can use a mild soap if you rinse this off the skin.

How often should a stoma be cleaned?

A stoma should be cleaned each time the stoma bag or pouch is changed.

How to clean skin around a stoma

Gently clean the surface of the stoma, but don’t rub it. You may notice a spotting of blood on the wipe when cleaning; this is nothing to worry about. Then, gently clean the skin around the stoma without rubbing. Pat the skin dry, ensuring it is thoroughly dried before fitting your bag. Water wipes can be used when travelling or when out and about.

How to clean a colostomy bag

Most Stoma Nurses recommend disposing of the colostomy bag and its contents in your disposal bag and then into your normal rubbish bin when you have finished changing your pouch. However, some people like to empty the contents into the toilet before disposing of the bag. You can squeeze the contents out through the opening in the adhesive area, or you can cut off a corner of the bag to allow for emptying.

How to take care of an ostomy bag

Store your stoma equipment at room temperature, avoiding extremes of heat and cold, as this may affect the adhesive area and make it less effective. Excess moisture may also affect the adhesive, so storing it in a bedroom drawer or wardrobe, for example, would be suitable. Keeping your equipment together will help you to keep a check on the level of supplies you have and whether you need to order them. Only order what you need for the month and order in good time so you don’t run out.

Using Public Toilets with a Stoma: What You Need to Know

As someone living with a stoma, you are entitled to use disabled toilet facilities. They have more space and surfaces on which to lay out your products, which you may find useful.

RADAR keys for disabled toilets

Some disabled toilets require a RADAR key, which you can obtain either through the RADAR website, your nurse or Fittleworth.

Essential tips for ostomates using public toilets

  • Put a couple of sheets of toilet paper in the bowl before emptying your stoma pouch to reduce noise and splashing.
  • Flush the toilet immediately after emptying your stoma pouch, to help reduce odour.
  • Always have paper or wipes with you for use in public toilets as they often run out. A bottle of water can also be handy when you need to clean up.
  • Use only plain, lukewarm water and dry wipes for cleaning your stoma (if you must use wet wipes, then make sure they are free from lanolin and fragrance as the skin around your stoma can be very sensitive).