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Our guide for changing a stoma bag

Changing your stoma bag is a regular occurrence for ostomates, and if you’re new to it all you may be wondering what the best method is for changing your bag. Remember that this is something that will become second nature to you and you will soon settle into your own routine with it.

As with anything, preparation is key when it comes to changing your stoma bag. Try to get everything ready before you start as this will help save time and leave you feeling more organised and in control. It’s also a good idea to find somewhere quiet and when you won’t feel rushed.

How often should you change your bag?

Try to establish a regular routine of changing your stoma bag as this can also help you to feel more organised and reduce stress. If you are using a closed bag, you may be changing it 1-3 times a day, it varies from person to person. For those with a drainable bag, particularly with a urostomy or ileostomy, you may be changing it daily or even every other day. The frequency with which you change your bag is very individual and also dependent on the type of appliance you use and any accessories you have. The most important thing is to change it often enough to ensure your skin beneath the adhesion is well protected.

How do you prepare for changing your bag?

There are a few things you can do just before you change your bag to make sure you’re well prepared and have everything you need. Firstly, you should choose a quiet and private space where you have access to a mirror. You’ll also need to make sure you have a clean pre-cut stoma bag ready, a disposable bag, dry wipes and adhesive remover sprays if required.

Before you start, lay out all of your equipment so that it is easily accessible. Most people choose to either stand or sit whilst changing their bag, it’s completely up to you which position you feel most comfortable in. Using a mirror can be really helpful in checking your stoma and easily applying the new bag. It’s also worth noting that if you are using a drainable bag, you should prepare it in advance by sealing the end closure securely.

The hole in your stoma bag should be pre-cut by your delivery company, however, if it isn’t then you can use your scissors and a template to cut the hole required for your stoma. If your pouch feels cold, hold it in your armpit for 5-10 minutes before you start as this will help to soften the adhesive. If you are changing a drainable pouch, you should drain the pouch over a toilet first as this will make the bag lighter and easier to manage. Make sure you clean the end of the drain with a piece of toilet paper!

How do you change your stoma bag?

If you use a remover spray or wipe, then gently pull back the edge of the flange and spray a small amount of adhesive remover around the exposed skin. Then gently pull away from your skin starting from the top downwards. Remember to always support your skin as you peel the appliance back as this helps to prevent your skin from tearing. Gently pull the entire plange away from your skin, holding it slightly upwards so the contents don’t trickle out. Next, fold the flange over so that the hole is completely sealed and pop it into your small disposable bag.

Take the dry wipes and moisten them in warm water, squeeze out the excess water and gently wipe around the skin and the stoma itself. It’s important to note that water is sufficient to wash the skin with, but if you do wish to use a soap make sure you choose a non-fragranced or non-moisturising soap and make sure it is thoroughly washed away to avoid irritation. Once the area is clean, pat the skin dry with dry wipes and dispose of these in your disposable bag.

Next, prepare the clean pouch by removing the backing film from the adhesive and fold the top back to help position it around your stoma. Work your fingers around the adhesive to help smooth it into place from the bottom upwards. Try to make sure that there are no creases to ensure a good seal! Then use your hand to cover the entire pouch so that the adhesive warms up from the heat of your hand, this will help to stick it to the skin and ensure it stays put.

Finally secure the disposable bag and pop it into the normal household rubbish! You can always pop the bag in the bin outside your home and take away any odour!

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