Keys to Caring for Your Ostomy

Learning how to care for your stoma is an important first step in transitioning to your life after ostomy surgery. Explore these fundamentals.

Keys to Caring for your Ostomy

When your healthcare professional says it is appropriate, you can resume your daily activities. It may take time, but you’ll eventually get used to your ostomy pouching system and get on a schedule that fits your lifestyle.

In the beginning, it’s vital to learn and practice good ostomy care habits, including regularly changing your skin barrier (the part that sticks to your skin). A well-fitted skin barrier will protect the skin from being irritated by the stoma output.

Here are a few basic ostomy care tips:

  • Empty your pouch when it is one-third to half full of output or gas
  • If you use a cleansing product, make sure it doesn’t contain oils or lotions that can interfere with adhesives
  • Rinse your skin with water and dry it completely before you apply a new pouch
  • After you apply your skin barrier, hold it against your body for 30-60 seconds. The pressure and warmth will help activate the adhesive. Check for gaps and leakage.
  • If you wear a two-piece system, try putting your skin barrier on at an angle, making a diamond shape, for a smoother fit
  • Replace your skin barrier routinely. You’ll eventually find what’s most comfortable for you, but many people change it every three to four days.

If you discover red, broken, or moist skin around your stoma, or your pouch is not staying in place, seek help from your stoma care nurse. Also, examine your peristomal skin regularly to ensure it looks healthy and prevent any issues.

Not sure what to do when you shower or bathe? You can keep your skin barrier and pouch in place, or you can remove them.