Tips from people with an Ostomy
A great collection of practical ideas and suggestions from people with an ostomy surgery. Download it as a PDF: Tips from people with an Ostomy
This document contains a collection of practical ideas and
suggestions posted and discussed by people with an ostomy on
MeetAnOstoMate.org. The following information should not
be construed as specific instructions for individual ostomates or random
None of the information, opinions, suggestions or advice,
presented here, substitute for professional medical care or personal attention
by a qualified practitioner and under no circumstances may it be relied upon as
such. Always check with your doctor or your ET/Stoma Nurse if you have any
questions or concerns about your condition, if you are about to start a new
program of treatment or try a new product or a drug. Consult your doctor
regarding the applicability of any information found in this document in
regards to your symptoms or medical condition.
The creators, publishers and editors of this document are not
responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any form of damage
whatsoever resulting from the use (or misuse) of information, opinions,
suggestions and advice contained in or implied by this document.
Swimming and showering
Most people with an ostomy have no problem swimming or
showering with the bag on. The following are some practical tips:
- Try to avoid eating anything a few
hours before you expect to swim. This will minimize your stoma output. Empty
your pouch before swimming.
- Do not put a new appliance on (flange
if you use a two-piece system) before swimming, since it may be faulty. It is better
to stay with the one you have on and you know it works well. For additional
security (not necessary) you may put waterproof tape along all 4 sides of your
- Dry your appliance with a towel after
- If you irrigate or if you know that
you will have very little output you can use a mini-pouch or stoma cap. It is
better to use a two-piece system since you can leave the flange on and simply
change the pouch to a mini.
- When showering, you can fold the
pouch up and put GLAD's Press 'n Seal® over and around it. It will help to keep
the water out.
The following are some practical ideas for keeping the odour
- Add one teaspoon of baking soda in
the pouch each time you change or empty. Some people claim that this removes
90% of the odour. It is easy and affordable.
- Add a few drops of ordinary peppermint
oil to your pouch each time you change or empty.
- Add a few drops
of eucalyptus oil to your pouch each time you change or empty.
- Add a few drops of 3% hydrogen
peroxide solution to your pouch each time you change or
- One or two Chlorophyll tablets or
Chlorophyll liquid taken with each meal may help, as Chlorophyll is a
great deodorizer. They may be found at any health food store and on the
Internet and are usually inexpensive.
- Add two or three
Tic Tacs to your pouch each time you change or empty. This can reduce the odour
significantly. Try different types of Tic Tacs to find the best results.
- You can also try adding a teaspoon of mouthwash to
some practical tips for travelers:
- Take two sets of flanges and pouches.
-. Changes in food and activity levels, as well as disruptions in your
routine, can throw your ostomy off.
- Wear clothing that does not press on
- Carry plenty of
ostomy supplies in your carry-on bag, as lost or delayed luggage can cause
serious problems. If possible, have all your supplies with you on the plane.
- If you are using cut-to-fit flanges,
make sure you cut them before you get on the flight.
- Do not eat anything a few hours
before the flight in order to minimize stoma output.
- If you have to go through security
screeners, make sure to advise the security personal of your ostomy. Although
most of them should be properly trained, letting them know beforehand may avoid
some uncomfortable situations. For extra security, consider obtaining a note
from your doctor.
- For longer flights (or bus or train
rides) you may want to consider a high output bag. This
will save you some trips to the washroom and will also last longer in case of
no washroom availability for prolonged periods of time.
If you experience any itching under and around the wafer you can
try some of the following:
- Apply a small
amount of Calamine lotion to the area where the wafer sticks to the skin.
Calamine contains an anti-itching agent. You can use a hair dryer set on low
for a few seconds to make sure your skin is dry before putting on the wafer.
- Ask your nurse or doctor about
Zonalon cream. It is supposed to relieve moderate itching caused by certain
skin conditions. This is a prescription medication.
- Ask your nurse or doctor about Cortizone-10®.
It is an anti-itch product that you can apply to your skin.
powders relieve itch caused by fungal infections. Check with your nurse or
- Some oral allergy medications may
also help with the itch. Check with your nurse or doctor.
- Apply a spare wafer on the opposite
side of your stoma to see if the skin there will start to itch too. If you
get an itch there too, you might have an allergic reaction to the adhesive.
- Try rinsing the skin around your
stoma using cool water with about 1 tsp. of baking soda in it. You might
find that helps with the itching. Also be sure to use skin barrier prior
to putting on the new flange. This will help protect your skin.
- Never scratch the skin under the
barrier as it may cause infections and sores.
Red and sore skin
- Many of the
leading ostomy manufacturers offer powders, creams, wipes etc. that can be used
to treat irritated skin before applying the wafer. Check with your nurse or
- If your nurse or doctor suspects psoriasis
ask them for Clobex® spray. It works by reducing skin
inflammation (eg. redness, swelling, itching or irritation). It has worked well
for many patients.
- You can use the Aloe
Vera plant to treat the affected skin (not the juice or the lotion bought
in the store, but the plant itself). Snip off about two inches of the plant and
then slice it down the middle with a razor blade or a paring knife. The inside
of the plant is watery and a bit gooey. Make sure the skin around your stoma is
clean, dry, and completely free of any soap residue. Gently rub the opened
plant over your skin to allow the juice from the plant to coat the affected
area. Allow it to dry completely. Do not wash it off your skin, just re-apply
your wafer. Use daily or as often as needed. Talk to your nurse or doctor
before doing so.
- You may also try wiping the affected
area with baby wipes containing Aloe.
Blow outs refer to those situations when stool or gas
accumulation causes the pouch to either break or separate from the flange,
causing a leak. This can happen to anyone and at any time - overnight, when you
go out, in the car etc. The following are some tips to prevent or minimize the
risk of blow outs.
- Try to eat
little or, if possible, nothing for about 4 to 5 hours before bed time. Empty
your bag before going to bed.
- Avoid gas-producing
foods before bed time or before going out. Most foods that contain
carbohydrates, lactose, starches and fiber can cause gas.
- Change your
appliances regularly. During the night, you can train yourself to wak up (or
use a gentle alarm clock) to make sure that everything is alright.
- Use a towel, sheet
protector or mattress cover under you to protect the bed and sheets in case of
- Some find that eating a few marshmallows
before going to bed or going out helps with minimizing and solidifying the
- If you go out, make sure your pants
or belt are not too tight on the bag.
Remedies to get old and
new stool stains out
- Add soda
crystals (in crystal or liquid form) to your laundry. This is a cheap way to
handle stains. You can purchase soda crystals in household stores.
- Try pouring AVON®
bubble bath liquid onto the affected spots, rub in and wash with cold water.
- Spray or rub in OxiClean® onto the
stained area and then wash with cold water.
- Try using Greased Lightning®. You can
buy it at Home Depot. Some say it works miracles.
- Another product you can try is LA's
Totally Awesome® all purpose concentrated cleaner. You can purchase it at many
stores, including 1 Dollar stores. Spray it onto the affected area and wash
with cold water.
- Drink some
"Ballerina tea" to aid your bowel movement. A good and cheap place to find it
is at an Asian market.
- Taking painkillers containing codeine may cause your
stool to become harder (constipated). If you experience problems, check with
your nurse or doctor.
- Remember to
always chew your food properly swallowing. Drink plenty of liquids.
- The shorter your
bowels the higher the chance for blockage. For example, you stand a greater chance
to experience problems if you have an ileostomy compared to colostomy.
- Be careful when
eating oranges (or any other citrus fruit), since the membranes can cause
severe blockage. Instead, you can try canned fruit where the membranes are much
softer. Avoid fresh raw pineapple – it may cause severe blockage.
- About oranges:
you can try slicing the orange into thin slices (leave the peel on) - then cut
the slice into half-moons to eat. This breaks up the membranes very
well. This works for any citrus fruit.
- Fresh veggies (onions, lettuce, celery, carrots, tomato
etc.) nuts, mushrooms and other hard-to-digest foods may cause
blockage as well. It is not the same for everyone. You should carefully try and
see how it works for you. Most blockages are caused by food that was not
processed properly by your digestive system. Make sure to chew the food well or
to cook it till soft.
- If you experience blockage you can drink some mineral oil. It makes things
slide out. You should also drink plenty of liquids.
- In case of blockage you can also try
massaging the abdomen and the area around the stoma as this might increase the
pressure behind the blockage and help it to "pop out." Most food blockages
occur just below the stoma.
- If nothing works, call your doctor or
WOC/ET Nurse and report what is happening. If you cannot reach them and there
is no output from the stoma for over a day, go to the emergency room
The reference of 'pancaking' is when stool
gathers in the upper part of the pouch and stays there as opposed to going down
to the bottom.
- Make sure you have air in the bag. If
you do not have enough air it acts like vacuum and your stool will sit where it
comes out and will not drop down to the bottom of the bag.
- You can also try adding a few drops
of baby oil (or cooking oil) to the inside of the pouch and rub it in the
inside walls to help the stool to slide down.
Improve wafer adhesion
- Using antiperspirant
just above the wafer may prevent sweat from interfering with the wafer's
- When changing
your appliance, use a hair dryer set on low and directed at the wafer to help
the adhesion. Some people with an ostomy achieve 5 to 7 days wear time.
Adapt rings, Eakin rings or strip paste
You have to
stretch the ring or the strip paste before application. If you use a hair dryer
on low for about thirty seconds to heat up the ring, it becomes much easier to
mould around the stoma.
How to thiken stool output
- If you have an ileostomy
and are concerned about leakage while changing your appliances, try eating a handful of
marshmallows about 15 minutes before the procedure. They tend to thicken the
output. Do not overdo it though, since it can cause blockage.
- To "thicken- up" the output,
one can also eat peanut butter, crackers, bananas or even Jelly Babies (or any
sweeties with gelatine).
Cover your pouch in
You can try using Bella Bands to cover and keep your
appliances in place. They were designed for pregnant women, but can work great
during sex, swimming or any other activity. Use them under your clothes in
place of an ostomy belt.
Download it as a PDF: Tips from people with an Ostomy