By Bill Vincent

Living with an ileostomy can be a significant adjustment, but having the right supplies on hand can make all the difference. Based on my first-hand experience, here’s a list of the top must-have items that help me manage my ileostomy more comfortably and efficiently.

  • Medical Cart or Organized Storage: Before anything else, having your supplies organized and easily accessible is paramount. Whether you choose a medical cart, a dedicated table, or a drawer system, ensure it works for you and your space. I prefer to change my appliance while standing.

  • Warm Water & Soft Cloth: For cleaning around your stoma, warm water paired with a soft cloth (like quartered paper towels) can be gentle and effective. This simple duo can help keep your skin healthy and irritation at bay.

  • Adhesive Remover Wipes: Hollister’s Adhesive Remover Wipes (product 7760) come highly recommended for removing residual adhesive without causing skin irritation, especially for those with sensitive skin.

  • Absorbent Powder (Optional): While not suitable for everyone, an absorbent powder can be a game-changer for managing moisture around the stoma area. However, if you have sensitive skin or find the removal process harsh, consider skipping this or finding a gentle alternative.

  • Protective Barrier Rings: Rings like Eakin Seal can provide an additional layer of protection between your skin and the baseplate of your pouching system. They can help prevent leaks and skin irritation. I prefer to offset it slightly for a snugger fit around my stoma, ensuring peace of mind.

  • Specialized Appliance Pouch: Choosing the right pouch is crucial for your comfort and confidence. There are many types available, so finding one that suits your body’s shape and your lifestyle is key.

  • Adhesive Base Plates: These stick directly to your skin, creating a secure foundation for your pouch. Ensuring you have the right fit and style for your needs can make a significant difference in your daily comfort.

  • Cut-to-Fit Appliance Hole Cutter or Scissors: Properly sizing the hole in your appliance to fit your stoma is essential to prevent leaks and skin irritation. Specialized curved scissors or a steel punch (for those who find scissors difficult to use) are excellent tools to have. Consider using a steel punch for precise cuts, which is especially handy if you struggle with manual cutting tools due to conditions like arthritis, as I do. This method is quick, accurate, and a game-changer.

  • Disposable Bags: For disposing of used appliances and pouches, having a dedicated bin or disposable bags can help manage waste discreetly and hygienically.

  • Sample Before You Commit: Industry brands are usually willing to provide free samples of their products. Before settling on a type of pouch, request samples to find the one that offers the most comfort and reliability for your needs.

  • Opt for Convenient Closure Systems: Evaluate different pouch closure systems, such as clips versus Velcro or reusable plugs. A reusable plug, as seen on a high-output bag, may offer simplicity in management and disposal, enhancing your experience.

  • Consider Clear Pouches: A clear pouch like the Hollister 18013 may allow for better monitoring for new users. Being able to see the output can help in identifying any irregularities or issues without removing the pouch.

  • Seal It With Tagaderm: To prevent leaks, especially in critical moments, keeping a roll of Tagaderm or a similar product for extra security around the appliance edges is advisable. Its strong adherence properties make it a valuable asset.

  • Ensure Skin Integrity: A good barrier cream, like Coloplast Brava Cream, protects the skin around the stoma. Its quick absorption and non-irritating formula provide a protective layer, aiding in overall skin health and comfort.

  • Supplement With Protective Sheets: For added skin protection, consider using a square, rubbery protective sheet like the Coloplast Protective Sheet directly on your skin under the appliance. This extra layer can further ensure a secure and gentle hold.

  • Select a Reliable Supplier: Your experience can drastically improve by choosing a supplier that offers guidance, reliability, and efficiency. A family-owned business has proven to be the best for me.

  • Nutritional Awareness: Post-operation, your body’s absorption rates may change. Consult with a healthcare professional about incorporating supplements or nutritional shakes like Ensure to maintain optimal health.

Remember, everyone’s experience with an ileostomy is unique, and what works well for me may not work for you. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different products to find the perfect combination that makes living with an ileostomy as comfortable as possible.


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