Tips on changing your bag, showering + hygiene

IMG_20160226_194513As Ostomates, we all have our own individual technique when it comes to emptying and changing our ostomy bags. We have our personal favourite brands and types of appliance, different showering methods, even preference for how often and when we change our bag.

Stomas come in all sorts of shapes and sizes (and also have minds of their own!). Some may need more attention than others or take a bit longer to work out and get used to, but they all need a bit of TLC!

We can be pretty particular and meticulous about how we change our appliance, and that’s a good thing! There is no one correct way – it’s not an exact science!

Here are a few of my tips and what works for me and my permanent ileostomy!

Showering:

  • I try not to wet my bag too much. I keep my back to the shower and use a hand held shower head to rinse. You still get all the nooks and crannies and are completely clean afterwards!
  • There is no issue in getting your bag wet (they are waterproof), I just personally prefer not to completely soak it. I find it prolongs the life of the bag. When I plan to change my bag, I saturate myself all over!
  • 99% of the time I shower with my bag on. I have showered a few times without it – no issues. It’s actually quite liberating! If it does poop a bit, it just goes down the drain.

Bag changes – when and how often:

  • I used to think it was gross if I didn’t change my bag daily, but that gradually stretched to every other day, and now I usually only change it 2-3 times a week!
  • Skin: The more frequently you change your bag, the more it can affect the skin, so often less frequent bag changes can help keep your skin healthy and not so raw.
  • Eating? I try not to eat just before a change to minimise the likelihood of a poo spew mid change!
  • When? Prime time for me is first thing after my morning shower.
  • Where? Majority of bag changes will be at home, over the sink in the bathroom. Not at home? No problem! On holidays, at a friend’s house – it might be smaller or less private than what you’re used to, but there are usually ways to improvise!

Products:

  • If the appliance you are using doesn’t work for you or you’re having recurring leaks – keep looking!
  • There are so many different options when it comes to type of bag, wipes, adhesives, powders, skin care and additional ostomy accessories. Persevere until you find the best fit for you and your stoma.
  • Most companies will send out free samples – check out their websites.

Process:

  • WP_20160226_19_38_53_ProPreparation – I get everything I need for a change out ready on the bathroom bench before I remove the bag, and keep my toiletry bag with extra wipes etc nearby just in case!
  • Naked? Some people opt to change their bag whilst nude. I normally leave on my undies and tuck a Depend underpad (bluey) into the front of my nickers.
  • The whole process usually takes me 5-10 minutes max. You can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzx-_8CPnvk&feature=youtu.be

Other tips:

  • Use a perfumed bin bag (citrus or lavender is nice) to help hide the smell 🙂
  • SecuPlast Strips to help with adhesion (or boomerangs as I call them) can be a lifesaver and enhance bag longevity by at least a few days!WP_20150524_19_19_41_Pro
  • Hairdryers are great for heating up the adhesive. The heat aids the sticking process and gives sturdiness and endurance to each bag for added security. They are also super handy for drying off after a swim or shower.
  • Talk to your Stoma therapy nurse for suggestions or if you have any concerns.

Really, it is about trial and error and finding a system, products and routine that works for you. I would love to hear from other ostomates on this one! Thoughts? What routine do you follow? Any handy tips or advice you can offer?

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