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Colostomy questions and answers

Having a colostomy procedure and stoma can be a time when there are many questions to ask the doctors and stoma care team. It can be hard to remember to ask them all during appointments. Here are some suggestions:

When should I change my colostomy bag?

  • Plan routine colostomy bag emptying and changes before breakfast or in the evening before going to bed, when there's less digestive activity.
  • Plan regular colostomy bag replacements every three to five days.
  • Date the tape on the bag or mark your calendar to remind you when the bag was last replaced.
  • Replace the bag promptly if you experience an itching or burning sensation on the skin around the stoma (where the colostomy enters the body). These sensations may indicate a potential leakage.

How should I care for the stomal area?

  • The stoma and surrounding skin require the same cleanliness as the rest of the body. It is not necessary to use sterile materials to cleanse this area.
  • Trim body hair around the stomal area with blunt-end scissors or an electric razor.
  • Avoid using oils or ointments on the skin around your stoma. They may prevent the bag from sticking to your skin.

How should I bathe with a colostomy?

  • You may shower or bathe with the colostomy bag on or off, although the body may keep eliminating while you're showering or bathing.
  • You can replace, air dry or blow-dry (with a hair dryer on a low setting) the bag tape after showering or bathing.

How should I exercise with a colostomy?

  • You can wear stretch underwear to support the colostomy pouch during physical activity. Wear your pouch inside the underwear.
  • Pouch covers add to your comfort and help absorb perspiration.

Will weight gain or loss affect my colostomy bag?

Yes. An excessive weight gain or loss (from 10 to 15 pounds) can change the fit of your colostomy bag or alter the wearing time of the bagging system. Be sure to contact your surgeon or stoma care nurse if weight gain or loss becomes a concern.

Are there any other helpful tips for a colostomy?

  • Always carry a spare colostomy bag with you in case you experience unexpected problems.
  • Keep extra closure clips with you in the event yours drops or breaks. A rubber band or binder clip can be used in an emergency.
  • Test different products at home on days when you are near your own toilet.

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