Stoma pouches are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most traditional and popular size is the standard pouch as it suits most ostomates. Anything smaller than this standard size will limit the capacity and therefore have the ostomate heading to the bathroom to drain the contents or change the pouch, far sooner than they may wish! The mini pouch and stoma cap are significantly smaller than the standard pouch, but when used correctly they have their place and are extremely popular in the right circumstances.
Why choose a Mini pouch or a Stoma Cap?
Having a stoma should not limit any activities nor have impact on your lifestyle. Ostomates should have the freedom to continue doing the things they love and not have to worry about their stoma pouch and whether it will restrict them in anyway. Choosing whether a mini pouch or a stoma cap is an option for you, will be a very personal decision. It will feel right for some, but will not suit everyone. It has to be a decision based on what you need from your stoma pouch and your own individual lifestyle. Here are some tips to help choose whether a mini pouch or stoma cap will make any positive changes to your current stoma care routine.
Mini pouch: As the mini pouch is a very small pouch; the wear time tends to be quite limited. These smaller pouches tend to be more popular for people with an end colostomy as their output is a slightly more predictable and is more manageable due to the semi-formed output. For a person with a colostomy after their bowel has been active, they may not have another bowel movement until later on in the day and therefore wearing a cap or a mini pouch may provide some freedom.
Unfortunately for this reason, the mini pouch is not ideal for a person with an ileostomy or urostomy, as both types of stomas are very active and wearing a smaller pouch may require you to change or drain your pouch even more frequently than you do already.
Stoma caps: are the smallest of all the stoma pouches, hence it is classified as a cap rather than a bag. Stoma caps are a tiny, closed pouch, which have capacity to hold a very small amount of stool so they can only be worn for a very short period of time.
Again, they are more suitable for people with an end colostomy. If you irrigate your colostomy and have frequent and predictable bowel movements, then a stoma cap maybe an option for you, for short term use or daily wear.
Who are they suitable for?
- Often ostomates who are quite petite in stature, find the mini pouches fit the contours of their bodies better than the standard or larger pouches, which can be too long and can crease into the groin area, causing discomfort.
As they are available in drainable and closed pouches, they are for anyone who feel these smaller pouches would benefit them.
- Stoma caps are most suited to people who have an end colostomy or those people with a relatively inactive mucus fistula.
- But this is not to say if you have an ileostomy or urostomy you cannot use them, this is completely personal choice. If you are interesting it trialling one, try wearing it at home first, so any accidents can be dealt with swiftly!
What are the benefits of using a mini pouch or cap?
The main benefits for using a stoma cap or a mini pouch are for discretion. Here are some of the reasons why stoma caps or a mini pouch are so popular:
- Swimming: Swimming, generally being in or near a pool or on the beach, are the most common times that ostomates would like a bit of discretion. A stoma cap can often provide this, as a smaller pouch/cap is easily concealed beneath trunks or a swimming costume.
- Intimate moments: It is not always necessary, but many people opt for the more discrete stoma cap during intimate moments. The stoma cap is still visible but can be less obtrusive. Again, if you cannot wear a cap, try the mini pouch for a little bit of discretion as it will provide a bit more space in the bag.
- Exercising: Many ostomates will reply on a stoma cap whilst they competing in sports or exercising. Moving around during high impact sports can be easier whilst wearing a stoma cap or small pouch. Stoma caps can also be combined with a stoma protector to provide a barrier and prevent injury whilst playing contact sports.
- Colostomy irrigation: A stoma cap should only be worn full time if colostomy irrigation is successful and well established. Irrigation allows the bowels to be flushed and emptied via a strict irrigation regime set by the Stoma Care Nurse. This can have the advantage of enabling the person to control when their colon is emptying, meaning there is little or no need to wear a full-sized pouch. Irrigation is not suitable for people with an ileostomy or urostomy.
Many people wear stoma caps for plenty of other everyday activities also! If you have an ileostomy or urostomy, don’t be disheartened about not being able to wear a stoma cap but you could try a mini pouch instead, which may give a little more capacity and wear time than a stoma cap. It would help for the above scenarios, as with a cap…. wear only for a short period of time.
Where do I get them from?
Both mini pouches and stoma caps are all available on prescription via your delivery company or chemist. They come as a one piece system (the wafer is connected to the pouch) or two-piece system (stoma pouch and the barrier) depending on which you prefer to wear. Some stoma caps have filters and some are available without, this is personal choice. These pouches and caps have an area of flange which adheres the pouch to your skin just like your normal stoma bag. This flange is skin friendly and can be cut to fit the size of your stoma, as with any other pouch.
If you need any advice, contact your Stoma Care Nurse for guidance and support.
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