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Showering with a stoma – everything you need to know

Showering and bathing is part of everyone’s daily routine and should be still enjoyed even if you have a stoma. You may feel concerned about getting your stoma or skin wet, but normal exposure to water and air will not harm your stoma in any way.

If you have recently had stoma surgery, it is wise to talk to your surgeon or stoma care nurse about showering and bathing, the advice is often to avoid a long soak in a bath for the first few weeks to avoid the stiches and wound becoming moist, but showering and shallow baths are perfectly fine. If you are concerned about getting your stoma and surrounding area wet, you can always keep your pouch in place throughout which will keep the area dry.

The important question to ask yourself is whether you are going to shower with your pouch in place or without? This is personal preference and either way is absolutely fine. The type of stoma you have, may influence your decision. Colostomies function less often and with some predictability so it is a little easier to be able to time your shower without wearing your pouch, perhaps before you eat in the morning or later in the evening maybe the quietest and less active time. Ileostomies and urostomies tend to be more active and therefore be prepared for some activity whilst showering, if this bothers you, wearing a pouch throughout, may help.

If you chose to remove your pouch whilst showering, here are a few tips to help you:

  • Empty and remove your pouch and barrier before showering/bathing
  • Get the next pouch and barrier ready for afterwards
  • Don’t have the shower water temperature too hot
  • Avoid the direct stream from the shower onto your stoma
  • Try to avoid any oil-based soaps, perfumed products, bubble baths or glittery products as they may leave an oily residue which may hinder your next pouch in sticking
  • No need to rub your stoma or surrounding skin, but let the soapy water gently wash over the area
  • Have a soft towel or flannel close by and gently dab your stoma and skin dry
  • Apply a fresh pouch immediately after showering
  • Give the shower a quick rinse in case someone else is following you into the shower!

Many ostomates prefer wearing a pouch whilst showering. If using a two-piece system, it is better to remove both the barrier and the pouch, rather than leaving the barrier in place as the water may reduce its wear time. It is a good idea to decide whether you are changing the pouch after your shower so you can prepare another pouch ready for quick application or whether your current one will remain in place for the rest of the day. The ostomy pouches and the backing flanges are waterproof and the materials should dry off after the shower so they can continue to be worn. It is important to make sure the filter on your pouch does not get wet whilst showering, as the water can block the filter and stop it from working. As a result, you may run into a number of issues later on in the day, such as excessive gas in your pouch or ballooning, which will be uncomfortable and could cause leaks.

If you prefer to keep your pouch on during shower here are some tips for you:

  • Empty your pouch before showering
  • Make sure the seal is secure
  • Apply the small filter cover directly over the filter on your pouch
  • You may find the adhesive of the flange heats up with the warm water and is a little bit stickier when you are removing it to apply a fresh pouch

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