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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

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Colostomy Questions and Answers

The following questions and answers should help to clarify any concerns you may have regarding your colostomy. Print them out so that you can discuss them with your health care provider.

When Should I Change My Colostomy Pouch?

  • Schedule routine colostomy pouch changes before breakfast or in the evening before going to bed, when there's less digestive activity.
  • Plan regular colostomy pouch changes every 3-5 days.
  • Date the tape on the pouch or mark your calendar to remind you when the pouch was last changed.
  • Change the pouch 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 pouch from sticking to your skin.

How Should I Bathe With a Colostomy?

  • You may shower or bathe with the colostomy pouch 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 pouch 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 Pouch?

Yes. An excessive weight gain or loss (from 10 to 15 pounds) can change the fit of your colostomy pouch or alter the wearing time of the pouching system. Be sure to contact your surgeon or enterostomal therapy (ET) nurse if weight gain or loss becomes a concern.

What Are Some Other Helpful Tips for a Colostomy?

  • Always carry a spare colostomy pouch 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 bathroom.

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