Having an ileostomy can make some of the simplest things seem a little more complicated. After having my surgery, I remember those first few weeks of trying to figure out how to handle something as easy as taking a shower. I thought I’d share what I’ve discovered since having an ostomy.
At least in my mind, showering seemed more difficult than it actually ended up being. I really don’t do a whole lot different. I use a bag that has the covering on both the front and the back. I keep my bag on and uncovered and do not worry much about getting it wet. The short amount of time that I am in the shower does not seem to affect the adhesion to the skin. I suppose that I do try to avoid standing with my bag right in the water stream, but I don’t put a whole lot of thought into it.
I have tried using some coverings to keep the bag dry in the past. I tried Saran wrap once, which was a total fail! I have also used plastic sandwich bags where I cut a whole in the back to fit my ostomy bag into. I think this would only work with 2-piece ostomy bags and honestly, I found it to be more trouble that it was worth. It would keep the front part of my bag dry, but I was unable to keep water from seeping in on the back of my ostomy bag. But if keeping the bag dry is a big concern for you, this is a fairly simple and cheap option that might help.
After I’m done showering, the bag dries pretty well just by air drying, but if I’m in a hurry, I will use my hair dryer on a lower heat setting to help it get there faster. I haven’t found any issues with this loosening the seal on my pouch, but I’m also careful to direct the heat towards the bag and not the seal.
For a while after surgery, I did not want to try taking a bath. Honestly, I don’t take baths too often anyways, but I do enjoy relaxing in one occasionally. Once I actually decided to give it a try, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have any issues, even staying in the water for a half-hour or more. I’m sure spending an excessive amount of time in the water could start loosening the edges, but I haven’t run into that myself. This picture was actually taken after I took a long bath (about 45 minutes). As you can see, there is a little softening of the edges, but the bag does not peel off or loosen at all and those edges do stick back down once they dry.
Finally, if I can time it right, there are times that I will take a shower without my ostomy bag. This is really the only time that you can leave the bag off for more than a minute or two, so it’s nice to let the skin breathe for a little bit. The thing with this is that you have to be OK if your ostomy starts acting up while you’re in there. I understand that may gross some people out, but as long as I make sure to take a little extra care getting clean, it doesn’t bother me (but maybe I’ve just dealt with poop issues for too long). I just make sure to have some wet wipes and wash cloths within reach of the shower, just in case. And yes, I have definitely had times where it has been very active, but usually I can get through a quick shower and give my skin a little bit of a break without too much of an ordeal. Personally, I only do this when I know I have a decent amount of time to get ready afterwards.
Have any of you had any different experiences with taking a shower or a bath? Any other tips for keeping the bag dry? Do you dare to leave the bag off sometimes?