Ask an Ostomy Lifestyle Expert

Bathing with a stoma

Question:

Am wondering what procedures required with having a bag and wanting to have a bath?
Do you keep the bag on, or clean the stoma and leave bag off?

Response:

You can bathe, shower, swim as normal with your stoma, unless you have been specifically advised otherwise. You can do so with the stoma bag on or off. It won’t fall off in the water if you choose to keep it on. As with swimming, some people choose to have stoma bag covers particularly suited to showering, bathing, and swimming.

Bathing is often a concern for people living with an ostomy, due to fears of the appliance loosening or falling off because of the exposure to water and heat. Excessive time taken to dry the appliance after bathing can make the task challenging. Some techniques and products may help to make your regular cleaning routine a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

In general, routine bathing should not interfere with the adhesion and security of your pouching system. In fact, the heat/steam from bathing can sometimes improve the adhesion, particularly in the first couple of days after you have applied a new system. However, if you like to frequently linger in long, hot baths then you may find that the wear-time of your pouching system will be shorter than anticipated. There is no “correct” wear-time for any appliance, so you should make your decision regarding the frequency of bathing and pouch changes based on personal preference and enjoyment.

Drying the appliance is somewhat dictated by the type of appliance you are using. You may dry non-tape bordered flanges and non-covered pouches with a towel. Try using the cool setting on a hairdryer for tape borders and covered pouches. Be careful not to use the hot setting, as this can distort/melt the pouch with prolonged exposure

If it is your scheduled “change-day”, you may remove the appliance prior to bathing/showering, leaving the stoma exposed. If you do so, remember to avoid a direct shower stream on your stoma. Avoid the use of oil-based soaps, shower gels, bath foams and moisturizing lotions as these will be hard to rinse off your skin, ultimately preventing adhesion of your next appliance. Once out of the bath/shower, your skin should be completely dry before applying your fresh appliance.

If you are using a one-piece appliance, then many of the same suggestions listed above may help, such as towel drying, using a cool setting on a hairdryer. If you are using a closed-end one-piece appliance, then you may elect to remove the pouch prior to bathing/showering (paying attention to the concerns regarding soaps, etc), or to keep the pouch on until after bathing, doing your routine change once your bath/shower is complete.

Some individuals have developed creative options for keeping the appliance dry. Shower aprons or plastic pouch covers are products that may protect the appliance, keeping it dry. The Glad® kitchen plastic wrap product, Press’n Seal™, may be effective for individuals with minimal abdominal hair. Apply a large piece of the product over the appliance, pressing directly onto the surrounding abdomen. This provides short-term protection from water. Visible abdominal hair may interfere with the product attaching to the skin, so this may not work for all.

Enjoy your bath relaxed in knowing your appliance is secure.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay
THE OSTOMY FACTOR Blog-joannltremblay.wordpress.com
FACEBOOK – Author Jo-Ann L. Tremblay
TWITTER @joanntremblay
Author of “The Self-Coaching Toolbox” , “Better With A Bag Than In A Bag”

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