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Stoma Bags & Appliances

Man with drinkWhat is a stoma bag or colostomy bag?

A stoma bag or pouch is a receptacle that catches the output from a stoma. It has an adhesive area that sticks to the skin and can be cut to the size of your stoma so that the stoma sits through it. The stoma output can then pass into the bag.

The adhesive area is usually made from hydrocolloids, which are much kinder to the skin than other adhesives. The bag is made from soft plastic and may be double-layered, with the outer part covered in fabric. Some bags don’t have fabric on the front; this allows you to see the stoma and the bag’s contents.

There is a huge variety of colostomy, ileostomy and urostomy stoma bags available in the UK, which may feel overwhelming.

We will guide you through the jargon of stoma bags (also called stoma pouches) and stoma appliances, so that you will know a one-piece bag from a two-piece bag and what a flange, wafer or baseplate is.

What is a stoma bag (or stoma pouch) used for?

There are a number of different types of stoma bag, but they all have the same job description, which is to hold waste in a secure waterproof, odour protective bag. The fabric outer covering reduces noise and prevents the pouch from sticking to the skin. Some bags have a clear covering which allows for ease of location in the application process, others are opaque or have a window providing visibility. Stoma bags can be drainable or closed, one or two-piece.

How does a stoma bag work?

Stoma bags can be one-piece or two-piece. You can more detailed information on these two types of stoma bags later on in this page.

One-piece stoma bag

The bag and base are joined by the manufacturer and can’t be separated.

One-piece Colostomy bags are changed 1-3 times a day, depending on the stoma output. One-piece ileostomy and urostomy bags are changed every 1-3 days and emptied as required.

Two-piece stoma bag

These bags are manufactured with a separate adhesive area/flange/baseplate and separate bag. The way they are coupled together varies from one manufacturer to another. They either stick together or have interlocking rings that connect them. The flange is usually changed every 2-3 days, and the bag can be changed daily or every 2-3 days.

Colostomy and Ileostomy stoma bags

Colostomy and Ileostomy pouches usually have a filter that allows wind to escape gradually. The filters contain charcoal, which helps to filter out any odours.

Colostomy bags are sealed around the border and changed each time the stoma passes stool into them. It is optional to change the bag if there is only a small amount of stool in it; however, you may want to put a clean bag on before going to bed.

Ileostomy bags have an opening to allow you to empty them. These bags usually stay in place for 1-3 days and are emptied as required. Your stoma nurse will recommend that you don’t let the bag overfill, as the weight will make it uncomfortable and may pull at the adhesive area, causing leaks. People with a high-output stoma may need to use a bag with a tap on the end. The tap allows ease of emptying and the attachment of an extra drainage bag for use when in bed.

Urostomy bags have an opening to allow the emptying of urine. They have a tap that either twists to open or a bung-type tap. Urostomy bags don’t have filters. Preventing overfilling of the bag will help to prevent leaks and the bag feeling like it is pulling. A night drainage bag can be attached at night to allow urine to drain freely while you are asleep.

The night drainage bag is usually disconnected in the morning, the contents are emptied down the toilet, and then the bag is rinsed. The night bag can last up to a week. However, your Stoma Specialist Nurse may recommend a daily night bag if you have recurrent urine infections.

Stoma pouches can be disposed of in the normal rubbish bin. Some councils still have a yellow bag service, but this is generally used when there is infectious material.

What is an ostomy skin barrier?

A stoma skin barrier is also called a flange, wafer or base plate. The skin barrier is designed to attach and seal the stoma pouch to the body, and protect your skin from the output of your stoma.

It is important to make sure that it meets your needs by being cut correctly, and ensuring that it fits the contours of the body.

Ostomy skin barriers come in various sizes and shapes. They are often marked with sizing circles to aid enlarging the hole if it needs to be personalised to the shape of your stoma.

What are the different types of stoma bags?

Closed Bag

A closed stoma bag is not intended to be drained or emptied, it is designed to be discarded when full.

Drainable Bag

Drainable stoma bags have some form of sealable opening on the bottom, that can be easily released by the user to empty the bag, without having to change or detach it. The method of closing the bag varies with the manufacturer, for example, some roll up and close by a Velcro type fixing, while some fold and clip.

One-Piece Stoma Bags & Two-Piece Stoma Bags

One-Piece Stoma Bag

A one-piece bag, sometimes known as a one-piece system, has the pouch and the skin barrier manufactured as a single unit. The two cannot be separated.


  • Generally, a one-piece system can feel more flexible than a two-piece system, and are easy to apply and remove.
  • They lie flatter against the skin, showing less under your clothes and are considered to be more discreet.
  • They come in either closed, drainable or tap end.


  • Skin irritation can occur due to the regular removal of the product.

Two-Piece Stoma Bag

A two-piece bag or two-piece system, has the skin barrier and the pouch as separate items.

The skin barrier is designed to be applied to the skin and then the bag is stuck, locked or clipped to the skin barrier. The bags come in either closed, drainable or tap end.

You MUST use a skin barrier and pouch from the same system as it is rare to find a compatible fixing method from different manufacturers.


  • The two-piece systems can be beneficial if you have sensitive skin, as the bag can be changed without removing the skin barrier from the body.
  • Another advantage is that they can be changed quickly and easily, perhaps when using a smaller bag for playing sport, or changing from a small bag to a large one when greater capacity is needed.


  • Some of the two-piece systems can be more bulky than the one-piece system, and there are two possible areas for leaks to occur.

Flushable Stoma Bags

These are closed bags which have a biodegradable inner liner. This can be peeled from the outer pouch and flushed down the toilet. The clean outer layer can be disposed of normally in a waste bin.


  • Easily disposable and discreet.

Paediatric Bags

These are available in either one-piece or two-piece. They are ideal for babies or children and can also be worn by adults who want a very discreet pouch as they are much smaller in size.

Urostomy Bags

These pouches are very similar to other pouches but are designed to store urine. They have a tap at the bottom that allows the pouch to be emptied or attached to a night drainage bag. The ability to attach a drainage bag is very useful as it increases capacity while sleeping.

Essential Stoma Products

Convex Products

The Convex skin barrier is designed to manage a stoma that is flush to the skin, or sits in a recess or has folds or similar surrounding it.

They come in variable depths and firmness and some are now softer. The degree of convexity varies and needs to be carefully selected for each individual by a specialist stoma care nurse.

Drainage Bags

These help to collect larger volumes of urine overnight by connecting to the urostomy bag. A nightstand can be placed at the side of the bed which the drainage bag attaches to.


Wind and odour is as inevitable for colostomists and ileostomists as it is for everyone.

Unfortunately, because you cannot control your stoma, you cannot control when wind and odour is produced. To help, manufacturers supply pouches with filters incorporated, these vent the bag and filter the gas to remove any odour.

The filter is usually made of charcoal with microscopic holes and membranes. Performance varies and you may want to try a number of different manufacturers to see which one works best for you.

Stoma Care Accessories

These are products that make life a little easier and improve your stoma management. They include things like adhesive removers, deodorisers and creams to ease soreness. There is a large selection of accessory products available; for more information please feel free to contact us.

Adhesive Removers

For easy removal of adhesives and adhesive residue, deodorisers help minimise the risk of odours when changing the pouch.

Barrier Products

Help to protect your skin against the output of your stoma.

Stoma Seals

Stoma seals are an ideal solution if the skin around the stoma is uneven or creased. They can be moulded to fit and are designed to reduce the risk of leakage.

Ostomy Supplies Delivered Quickly & Discreetly

Fittleworth is the leading home delivery company for stoma products that specialises in getting your ostomy supplies to you, discreetly and quickly. We are not a manufacturer and as a result, we are able to provide you with an unbiased service for your stoma products.

Whatever product you require, if it is available on prescription, listed in part IX of the drug tariff or the Scottish stoma tariff, we can supply it.

Whether you require advice or are investigating alternative products, our Customer Service Advisors are always willing to help. To ensure that you receive appropriate samples, we will contact your specialist stoma nurse to discuss and gain consent prior to sending.

If you are not in contact with your specialist stoma nurse, our team of Clinical Liaison Nurses will contact you to discuss your request.

At Fittleworth, we pride ourselves on being able to offer a discreet, reliable and convenient home dispensing service.

If your stoma pouches require personal customisation, we have a skilled team of operatives who are able to offer cut-to-fit ostomy bags.

Fittleworth has over 38 local Care Centres in the UK and stocks all stoma products available on prescription.