Out of the Bag: Showering & bathing

stephanie hughes out of the bag colostomy ileostomy crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd ostomy blog stolen colon ileostomy colostomy urostomy

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.

out of the bag shower bath bathing personal care clean water stephanie hughes stolen colon crohn's ostomy ileostomy colitis blogI 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.

out of the bag shower bath bathing personal care clean water stephanie hughes stolen colon crohn's ostomy ileostomy colitis blogFor 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?

58 thoughts on “Out of the Bag: Showering & bathing

  1. Katie

    I have to change my bag daily as I find my output seems to erode the flange quickly which leads to my skin getting sore and leaks.if I leave it for more than a day. Anyway, since I have to do this and have to wash, I organise the bathroom with all my bag changing gear – fresh bag, gauze wipes, barrier powder and so on, and then peel my current bag off and enjoy getting clean and being properly naked. My stoma is very quiet in the morning and this is the only time I go bagless but I really need this little bit of free time. I’m new to my stoma, well it’s almost been been three months and it’s been and is hard to get used to. I’m proud of this “me” time and also that I can look down and see that it’s just a wee red sticky out thing on my tummy and I shouldn’t get so upset about it. After I do my business in the shower I grab a gauze wipe and wrap it lightly over my wee stoma and then set about getting a new bag in place. Good to hear your routine too Stephanie. x

    1. Robert Davis

      I shower every other day. Change day is the day to work and sweat, then change; perspiration seems to have a negative effect on my barrier’s seal. I use a hair dryer to dry the bag and also behind, I don’t worry about heat hurting the seal, it is also good to warm the skin before applying the barrier. Bathing is not as big an issue as my parastomal hernia and prolapsed stoma, mine is neither little or wee red thing as Katie called hers. Mine causes the barrier to “scallop” all along the edges, making me more concerned with water. I am not one to go without my pouch, my stoma is active around the clock. There is no way to predict quiet times.

    2. dion

      YouUgh r want to try Eaken Seal that will protect your skin, I got a good 3 days and never had a skin issue. Good luck

      1. Karen

        I have had a illistomy since July. Mine hurts everyday. The doctor says it looks ok but it hurts so bad that I have to take pain medicine. I saw where a person said they change it every day. Does anyone have a suggestion. I really would appreciate any. Thanks

  2. kel

    I actually change my bag in the shower. I enjoy having my skin breathe for a little while. I’ve been able to figure out when I’m not as active, and that way nothing comes out while I’m in the shower. I like how the shower is able to really clean the skin around the stoma. I get out, dry my skin with paper towels, and put on a new bag. but I do dislike showering with my bag on, as I don’t like my bag being wet bec it takes too long to dry and when I get dressed, it gets my clothes wet (I try to dry it off as best I can and have even tried using a hair dryer..but still feel that the bag is too wet). this is why I’ll shower at night or when I know I’m not going anywhere.. good blog topic. 🙂 xo ~kelly

  3. Patty

    I to the bathtub. I clip the bag in 3’s and fill the tub enough where it doesn’t really effect the area. As I get older, the tub won’t be an option….so it’s nice to hear of what else I’ll be able to do. Initially I was showering with my back to the shower afraid to get the bag wet. It is a most difficult thing to accomplish but it is what it is. Thanks!

  4. Lori M. Carlson

    When I had my first temporary ileo in 1990 the Convatec product I used was so different than what is available today: I could shower daily without concern of the wafer compromising the adhesive. Even in 1995 with my second temporary ileo the product performed similarly. Then when I got my third and permanent ileo in 2005 I found that the Convatec product had changed significantly–taking a shower would immediately compromise the wafer. It prompted me to try other brands and all behaved similarly. My solution has been to not shower every day.

    I recall the wafers from 1990 were a thick, bulky square that was almost rigid, but they stayed put and I could easily take a bath or shower. Those were the days before Velcro bag closures and the tail clamp was pure evil. I think the new materials they use and smaller wafer size might account for the reduced capacity to withstand daily showering? Though I’ve been told by product reps that they should be able to handle daily showering, it just doesn’t happen for me.

    I took to showering without a bag rather quickly after my surgery as it seemed the right thing to do if I had a bag fail and I was a total mess. It feels good to shower with a naked stoma so I do whenever possible. Generally not a good idea to do right after a big meal–I’ll need to wait a couple of hours. I’ll take a washcloth into the shower with me to cover my stoma once I turn the water off and then I use a Velcro belt to secure the washcloth over my stoma until I get the new bag on.

    I can’t say about baths as I don’t take them due to having a very ancient and nasty tub that creeps me out. No matter how much bleaching and scouring I do, it’s just not inviting.

  5. Stephanie Hughes Post author

    Here’s a good tip from my friend Jes that she posted on my Facebook page: “I fold mine up in thirds (sometimes smaller) and slide on a large bobbypin to keep it tacked up…Viola…bag doesn’t get as wet 🙂 I just take a towel and dry the the flange on my skin…showers are short and dry time is miminal with a 9 month old and almost 7 year old. Have to be quick in and out!”

  6. Matthew Dobos

    Yep, showering bagless is the way to go whenever due for a change. It’s important to keep the skin underneath healthy, and the short time in the shower goes a long way for that. I also use adhesive remover in the shower as bags and paste usually leave something behind. As for tips for showering with a bag- it’s perfectly fine. The “trick” is keeping it dry afterwards. It takes extra effort to dry these out, but doing so will make the bag stay on longer. using a hair dryer on a low setting is probably the best way, but I find a good wipe down is just fine.

  7. Norma Guerra-Albin

    I change my bag every third day and I get into the shower bagless. I have learned to use disposable chucks or wee-wee pads on the bathroom floor in case there is some output. When I do shower with my bag on, I have a sweat sock (I cut the elastic off) and place on my bag to start drying. I usually make my coffee and it’s dry enough to get dressed. If not I keep it on til I have to go to work.

  8. BG

    I guess my luck is continuing, I had very difficult UC from age 24 to about 32, back in the days when sulfa and prednisone were the only help. I tried unorthodox treatment that cleared all symptoms for 5 or 6 years. Couldn’t believe my new lease on life. I disregarded the advise for checkups because I was cured… and you can guess that outcome. I had a very aggressive colon cancer, but they were unable to find any spread, in even the lymph nodes. Temporary ostomy, and one year later an anastomosis. Had that for 8 years, till a new occurance of cancer, when I said, “take it all, no looking back (NPI) I want no part of it. That was 2006.

    Sorry about all the background, just providing context.
    My current ileo, on the colo side, is 7 years old and works like a champ. I shower daily, use the hot tub as often as I like (most of the time for 30-45 minutes at a time), and my Hollister appliances go between 6 and 9 days. No, I don’t work for them or have any other reason to post this, just want to let you know in case you have not tried them. I tried a couple of the convatecs, and they were not as durable, the attachment between the 2 pieces was more difficult to verify, and the velcro drain was TERRIBLE. From a prior posting, I am assuming that the velcro is no longer used…wonderful. I change in the shower, in the morning, the most “quiet” part of the day. I have been able to perfect the application of paste to the wafer over the last 7 years, and I think that’s why they last so long. If anyone would like me to show what the wafer looks like with the paste on, right before I put it on, I could snap a picture.

    By now some of you have probably thought, “This guy must smell like a sewer between day 4 and day 8 or 9”! To be honest, the 2 reasons I usually change are because of odor or a slight stinging of the skin immediately around the ostomy, which tells me leakage is occuring. Another great part of the Hollister product is that the bag itself absorbs odor for about the first 24 hours. This is a big deal when I plan on using a bathroom with limited privacy, parties, bars, or while a guest at a friend’s house. After that first day which is odor free, even in the bathroom, I usually have no odor until day 6 or 7, and I can buy additional time by just rinsing the bag with a drop of hand soap and half a cup of water. You swish that around for a minute, empty the bag, and you are odor free for several hours to a day. By the way, I do monitor odor VERY closely. I will detect odor long before anyone around me by just sticking my nose inside the collar of my shirt. Try it, and you will be able to smell trouble coming long before any one else. Just some hard-won information, if it doesn’t work for you, remember I said in line 1 that I guess I’m just lucky.

  9. Eric

    I usually roll my bag up, and tape the ends so it doesn’t unravel, keeps most of the bag dry, and out of the way, works like a charm!

  10. Maryanne

    I use a two piece system either convatec or coloplast with their smallest bags. I rotate a couple of bags and change it after my morning shower. I empty them whenever I am in the bathroom. Rinse them out and hang them over a towel or rack to dry. I am fortunate enough to have a separate sink for this. A customer service rep advised me not to use soap to rinse, just water and they last for several weeks in this rotation. No smell.

  11. Renee

    Wow! Such grest advise! I’m having surgery Tuesday to get an illistomy and i will have a bag for roughly six months.. Or forever. One of my biggest concerns is this topic, I LOVE my bath times. Usually i take my bath after work, sometimes after dinner, before bed. Judging by the feedback, bath time will depend on what schedule my belly is on. Everyone has great shower advise but does anyone have more tub ideas??

    Also, I guess i am a little confused. The nurse explained to me how you have the wafer that attaches to your skin and then the bag itself. So when you all explain you dont have a bag while showering, you also dont have the part that sticks to your skin? The nurse explained to me that i do not want to change the wafer, the part on my skin, all the time. Maybe once a week? My next question, do i cover the entire area(stoma and the wafer application)?Can the part that goes on my skin get wet? The bag sounds uncomfortable when it gets wet, that is understandble.

    Looking forward to more ideas,

    1. Carmen

      I’m a bath lover to.I’ve had no problems with my Hollister products.I love soaking in hot bubble baths too.Like others I know my General schedule of when’s best and keep a washcloth to cover if needed.I like bag less but do both.Hope this helps.That was one of my concerns,not getting my bath

    2. Sarah Elizabeth Hart

      I too would like more tub tips. I had surgery last month and still haven’t taken a tub yet. I shower with a ziploc plastic taped around my bag and try to avoid direct water stream. I bathe with bag and no cover before changing.

  12. Lori A

    I am scheduled for my surgery tomorrow at 4pm. I was nervous until I did my pre-op work at the hospital and after I met with the stoma nurse, I felt totally fine with everything. I think I’m just so sick and tired of being sick and tired, I would take my colon out myself if I could. Some good advice on here and have enjoyed reading everyone’s entries and good advice.

    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      I know the feeling, Lori. I hope your surgery went well and that you are doing well with recovery. Please feel free to email me if you want to chat.

  13. Brandon

    I found if you eat 3 or 4 marshmallows about 20 min before shower time it stops all activity for abut 45 min, makes the entire process so much more relaxing.

    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      I’ve heard others mention this before but haven’t tried it myself. I’m definitely going to have to… especially because I’ll take any excuse to eat some marshmallows 🙂

      1. Page Holbrook

        I have used the magic marshmallows for years! I have found if I eat a couple in the morning before coffee I can get in the tub totally free of appliances and enjoy a long leisurely bath with no mess. Then still have plenty of time mess free to put everything on and go on with my day…and have coffee!

    2. dave

      I have been using marshmallows before every change for two years now. I eat four of them, wait 15-20 minutes while I lay out all of my new bag products, then remove my old bag and flange for my shower. I have no idea why this works, but it sure does.
      I also frequently shower with my bag and flange on and dry it with a hair dryer on low. No problems.
      I also have nephrostomy tubes, so a bath is not an option, but I wish it was.

  14. Peggy Kerentsew

    Great advice from everyone. I think it’s a personal preference. I too shower naked in the mornings when it’s time to change the entire system. Otherwise the wafer can stay in place or if worried, there are caps available also. I use Hollister products and have no problem with them even after the hot tub. Mine is permanent and I have found many tricks in the last fourteen months to stay clean and comfortable. Life is good ! Love reading your posts.

  15. Alan Alibozek

    I shower every day with my bag on. I do nothing special. I let the water run right on it. The only time I’ve had a problem is when I’ve had the wafer on for a few days. I actually like when it comprises in the shower because it allows me to catch it then instead of later when I’m out and about. I always dry with a fair drier
    On high heat. I feel that the high heat just sifted the stickiness of the wafer and makes it almost reveal again. I used to be so delicate. After a year with an ileostomy, I learned that the appliance can take a lot.

  16. Billy Carmon

    I use a 2- piece pouch so when I take a shower I take the fresh bag off and use what I call my shower bag. It’s just a bag I use over and over in the shower for about a month. When the shower is over, I hang my shower bag up to dry and after I dry off, I reattach my fresh bag. I’ve been doing this for over 10 years and it works very well for me.

    1. Shoney

      Can you be more descriptive about your shower bag . Is it a plastic Ziploc bag ?an Ostomy bag ?a designed bag created by yourself ? Sounds great to have ! Please do share! Thanks in advance…

  17. Sonja Kalman

    I change my wafer in the shower every four days (I use Coloplast 2 piece) and change the bag every other day. I shower everyday and use the small adhesive tab included in my supplies to cover the filter on the bag without problem. I towel dry the bag and wafer as best I can and if it still feels wet I wrap a paper towel around the bag for a few minutes (underwear keeps it in place) and that works really well to absorb any wetness quickly.

  18. I am a Survivor

    I am happy to see this post. When I first had my surgery in 2011, showering was a difficult task for me. I was very nervous that the seal would loosen and even fall off. It’s gotten a little easier in the past four years but it is still a daunting task for me. I don’t shower daily (I never did and in fear that it would lessen wear time). I’ve noticed that I can shower once with a new pouch on before I feel I need to change it. I have tried showering without my pouch on and will never do it again. I am very uneasy with not knowing if it’s going to be really active or not regardless of what I’ve eaten. I shower at night because I don’t give myself enough time in the morning (I like to sleep in as much as I can). I find that blow drying helps the pouch dry faster as well. I have gotten into the routine of changing my pouch after my shower as it is easier to remove and doesn’t hurt my skin as much. I’ve taken a bath a few times with the pouch on and haven’t had any issues however I rarely take baths.

  19. Colette

    Hi Everyone! I use Hollister. When I first came home from the hospital I had a visiting nurse come to the house to show me how to change the bag. I thought that I knew it all when I left the hospital but I panicked the first time I tried to change it. The nurse told me that I could not get the bag wet and that I should wrap myself up with saran wrap whenever I took a shower. Needless to say I did try this the first time and it was a disaster. The thing that I could not understand about wrapping the bag was: My doctor told me that people with an ileostomy could go swimming. So if you could swim, what was the big deal about getting the bag wet in the shower? As time has gone by I have learned a few things on my own with trial and error. I take a shower every day. I shower with my bag on. I dry it with a paper towel. I make sure that I take the clip off and dry that with a paper towel as well. Water settles on the inside of the clip so if I do not dry the inside of the clip the little bit of water that builds up in there does drip out. I have not tried swimming yet and I am not sure if I will but only time will tell. My life saving surgery was in 2012. Thanks for the tip about the marshmallows…will have to try that for changing time.

  20. Ernie Allen

    Hi !! I have had my ileostomy since 1980, I was 27 years old when I had it done. Prior to that, I had a General Surgeon operate on me for almost 10 years, operating on me to almost two to three times a year, which included fistula’s. In the fall of 1976 I made a appointment to go to The Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. I spend two weeks there, testing me for everything, including pulling four wisdom teeth. They diagnosed me with Crohn’s disease, and that I should have a ileostomy surgery done right away in the report to my surgeon. We set up plans for surgery to be done early the next year after the holidays. My surgeon and I discuss the Ostomy surgery, and he said and marked where he was going to put the stoma. I was happy to be getting it done because all the other surgeries were not helping, and I was being entered into the hospital besides for the surgeries, for them ten years for do you hydration, anemic, and upper and lower GIs, and for pain, which I was getting Demerol injections in the hip every four hours, 24/7. When I came out of surgery, the ileostomy surgery wasn’t done, and he said he didn’t feel it should not be done. For the next three years, I was being admitted to the hospital, and he called in a Gastro doctor, and a blood doctor, or cancer doctor to treat me with different drugs, and gave me a couple Hickman’s, and wasn’t allowed to eat for three weeks, to keep stool from going though my colon and rectum. Prior to 1970, when I was about 11 or 12 years old, I started seeing blood on the tissue paper, and I was taken to a general doctor that said it was nothing but a little hemorrhoid. By 1970 I was going to the bathroom up to 50 times a day, and I would vomit after eating a meal and had cramps so bad that they would double me over in pain, and when I went to the toilet, it was just a black stool, with a very terrible smell. The kids I went to school with would just laugh at me, and just call you names. Little did I know the black stool was nothing but digested blood. I met my wife in the winter of 77, and in the spring of 79 we had a son together. I fired the surgeon very shortly after I came out of the surgery after he decided not to do the Ostomy surgery, because I was going on what the Mayo Clinic recommended that he should do. Back then, in the town I lived in, and all the years that I was having surgery for this Crohns, I never heard of a Gastro doctor until I got rid of the surgeon. For almost two years, that’s all they did was try to heal it with med’s. My wife developed migraine headaches, and she made a appointment at a clinic that was a 115 miles from home. The day she was to go to the clinic, the night before I went out and got drunk and didn’t feel like riding that far with a hangover. I had started to drink heavy for the last few years just to try and kill the pain and depression, for all them 10 years of surgery, I didn’t have any support at all, people, including family just thought it was just in my head, because of their ignorance, and I was working 7 days a week with this pain and diarrhea. Well her sister made me go with my wife to this clinic, and we had just bought a new Jeep CJ7, so I crawled in the little back seat trying to get some sleep, every time I would nod off, she would hit a pot hole or swerve to keep me a wake, I was a long 115 miles. When we got there, I was reeling sick. She went into to see the doctor, and I was sitting in the front roll of the registry desk. The longer I sat, the sicker I got. I finally walked up to the nurse that I thought was in charge, and told her I needed to see a doctor, that I thought I was dying. She said she would get me into see a doctor right away, and she did, including the Gastro department. He was a elderly doctor in his early to mid 70s. I told him my history, and all the surgeries I have had. When I was getting ready to leave, he said I can’t let you leave, and he said you are dying, and I have a doctor I want you to meet, and you will find that you will really like him, and he is just right for you. This was mid November and I told him I just couldn’t stay, but I promise him I would make an appointment right now, and come back to see him as soon as possible, that I had a baby at home and had to get some things in order. He said that he wanted to do a couple lower GIs and see just how bad it was. Little did I know, that he was from Rochester Minnesota, and from the Mayo Clinic, and he made me promise to come back, that I was a very sick man. I made a appointment for about a week later. They put me to sleep to do the lower GI, and when I went back to get my results, he told me that I was lucky that my stool was all liquid, because my rectum opening was no bigger than a pencil, and then he admitted me to the hospital and put me on some IVs, and give the surgeon time to look at the tests. Well the surgeon came in, and he was a colon rectal surgeon that was in his early 40s if that, that he was in Vietnam as a M.A.S.H doctor, and when he left the military, he went to the Cleveland Clinic to train under a DoctorTurnbull that had worked on the procedure of doing different surgeries for the ostomies. He told me that it was most definitely Crohn’s disease, and I kept on asking him if it was cancer. He said no, that it was a Uncurable disease, that stayed in the digestive track from your mouth to your outlet, and that I had to have surgery to try to correct the surgeries that I have already had, and that the rectum was destroyed by all the surgeries I had on it from the fistula’s and had to be removed. I made the surgery for December 6, 1980. The surgery was only to take 4 hours, that turned into almost 14 hours. My wife and mother were there when I came out of surgery, and he told them, well I know what the doctors that I had did, which was very dam little, and that out of all the surgeries I had over the years, he had only removed only about two or three inches of colon and the fistula’s surgeries, that I had so much scare tissue, that everything was matted together, and that he had to cut it all out, and that I had so much infection inside me that he couldn’t finish the surgery, that I had a 50/50 chance of making it, and he didn’t know which way I would go. I spent about three weeks in the hospital, and was released just before Christmas. I had a temporary ileostomy, and that he wanted to wait a year before he would try to finish it, and give it time for some of the infection to get out of my system, leavings the rectum in. During that year I went from a 125 pounds to a 170 pounds. I had never weighted that much in my life, and I could eat, and no cramping and felt great, but in the back of my mind I knew I would have to go thru another surgery in a year. With my rectum still in, after about a month I would pass gas, real loud for about 5 minutes straight, not knowing how I could do that, and I called the doctor and ask him how I could do this. He told me that was just the gases from the infection coming out and not to worry. It was not know smell to it, just air. December of 81 I went in for the removal of the rectum, during that year I was off all med’s, and felt great. When I had surgery in 80, they had put me under, and being under for so long and being on pain med’s for so long, I woke up at the beginning of the surgery and had to give me more anesthetic too keep me out, and being I needed so much to put me under the first time, and the weight I had gain, the Anesthesiologist, was giving me the same amount as the prior year, and was under 12 hours this time to remove the rectum. When I came out of surgery, I wouldn’t wake up. I stayed in ICU for a day or two, and still wouldn’t wake. During that time, my surgeon, Gastro doctor, and the anesthesiologist stayed by my bed. The anesthesiologist sit by my head in my room around the clock. He said he was there when he put me too sleep, and he would be there when I wake up. Removing the rectum was the hardest part of surgery. When they remove the rectum they cut you from the sternum to the pelvic bone, and they turn you upside down that your rectum is right there, and it’s very delicate because of all the nerves and kidneys. Before the surgery, my doctor took my wife and I in his office and told us that this would make our marriage or break it, because for one thing you may not be able to have a erection again, and he wanted us to know being how young we were, and my wife was 5 years younger than I. The Urologist came in during surgery, and put in catheters into each kidney thru the penis, into the bladder, from there into the kidneys. The catheters were metal about 12 inches long with a needle on the end of them, and were inserted under X-ray, and by the time it was in the kidney, it was like taking a piece of wire, and wrapping it around your finger, long and curly, and I also had a catheter inserted in the bladder thru the penis also. I had a catheter inserted on each side of the stomach for the infection of the cavity, and two inserted in where the rectum was. I had one in each nostril, I believe one was for the stomach, and one for the lungs. I also had some IVs in each arm. When my first surgeon operated on me he would cut on one side, and then the next time he would cut on the opposite side, causing scare tissue inside the whole abdominal area. When he put the stoma in, the stoma could only go in you area, and that was about mid stomach, about 3/4 inch from my belly button. My ET, started me out with a one piece Hollister pouch, with Karaya, and then took a 4/4 Stomahesive wafer, and cut it into four pieces, and take one piece and cut a hole in it the size of your stoma. Then you had to take the Stomahesive, and press it on top of the Karaya. You molded it together by hand, by squeezing it and stretching it to the size of the stoma. The flange was the white paper tape, once the o ring is set around the Stoma, you can put the tape on the skin and put it where you wanted, for me, being inside the belly button. I always took hot showers or bath, because it would relax the muscle and joints. I would take a hair dryer, and blow it dry, but you still have moister around your o ring underneath the flange. Sometimes it would hold an extra day or it would leak depending on the way the stomahesive held up over the Karaya. Stomahesive was invented by a dentist, so he could dry a hole out inside the mouth, and pack it with it. After about 4 days my surgeon came in with three nurses, and I still was fulling awake, and told me he hated to do this, but he had to remove the catheters from the kidneys and it was gonna be very painful. I ask him if he could put me to sleep to do it, and he told me no, because if he did that, and not fulling wake he would kill me. They strap my legs apart, and then a nurse on each side put a blanket over my mid section over my arms, and one nurse took a towel around my head and though my mouth to bite down on, and then he proceeded to take the catheters out. He had to turn them out, because that’s the way they went in. He had them out so fast, but the pain was so much, I passed out. When I woke up, they gave me a shot of Demoral, 150cc to 200 cc every four hours. I was getting it all along, but he would kick it up as needed. Back then they didn’t have the pain pump, they had to injected you with a needle, back then, every hospital and religion was different, to how much pain med’s were concern, he asured me that he would take care of the pain, and he did. The first pouch I got was the one piece, after the second surgery, my ET started me on the two piece pouch, which is your 4/4 stomahesive wafer, with a pouch that snapped on like Tupperware. The thing is with the two piece, if you have a short bowel and loose stool it can pop off, or if you get moister in the channel it not hold as good, and if you are active, your clamp can not hold and the clamp can come undone and leak. The stomahesive wafer would crack while bending or just sitting and would crack and break, causing it to leak. I never used the paste once it breaks and leaks on your skin. Once you have a burn underneath the flange, I found out the best way to get it to heal is take the whole thing off and shower or bath and wash the stoma area with soap and water with a old wash cloth and if your a man with a lot of hair, shave the area where your flange will be, and if there is some weeping of mucus, use a little bit of stomahesive powder, in just the area that is weeping, don’t use no skin prep wipe or removal. If you have anymore questions, you can comment me on this subject. Thanks !!!

    1. Janet

      God love you Ernie. What a testimony you gave to us here…how brave you were and are. I wish you all the best you can be for yrs. to come. I hope your wife is doing well. Janet

  21. Linda

    I have had my ileostomy for almost 30 years, and at first I was scared to death. I would shower with my back to the water….but, I always hated showers. I just decided one day the heck with it, I filled the tub with water, and got it. I have been taking baths for over 25 years now, and I have never had a problem. I sink down into the tub and everything gets wet…..I just dry off, as best I can, and continue. Of course, I take my baths in the evening, when I’m not planning anything.
    Don’t be afraid to get it wet…..it will dry !

  22. Alice

    I have an ileostomy for two years. I shower in the morning before I eat. I use a two piece system. I remove my bag when I shower as I find it hard to keep the bag dry. My Convatec wafer reinforced with an Eakin seal lasts for eight days. I change my bag every few days. I also swim three times a week. When I am in the water I use a different type of bag, one that is not cloth covered. But I still use the same wafer. When it is time to change my wafer, I remove it before I shower. I do it when my stoma is quiet. But if it acts up, the water just washes it away.

    1. Joanne Scheriff

      Hi Alice! I had a permanent colostomy (bc of cervical cancer) l-1/2 yrs. ago, and a urostomy. Yesterday was the first swim I’ve taken since the 3/14 surgery, and it went well with the wafer and bag on. I haven’t read anything like my situation yet, but couldn’t get the wafer off (Convatec Natura sure fit), it was on for 3 days, (I change it every 4 days, bag every 2 days) b4 my swim. I tried b4 getting into the shower, and the gasket part of the wafer (the circle part) was starting to separate from the square! I then got into the shower to try to dissipate the glue on the wafer, the square part was finally loosening, but the waxy circular part stuck to my skin so badly I was afraid my skin would come off with it. 1/2 hour later, still in the shower, I finally had it off, then worked for 10 more minutes to get the tremendous thick glue residue off my skin – ended up having to scrape it off in the water with my nails. I had noticed b4 when I would perspire in this summer heat that the wafer was harder to remove, but this was so long that my company left, calling to me from beyond the bathroom door. Needless to say, pool in my yard, I hesitate from swimming again bc of the time and irritation on my skin. Any ideas? I don’t really want to use a strong remover, as the skin being pulled is more tender and not broken, but definitely irritated. Thanks Alice, and/or anyone who may have some ideas on how I might avoid this and enjoy swimming and my company.

      1. Sarah Elizabeth Hart

        The sensicare adhesive remover is silicone based and does not burn. I had a similar wafer sticking situation with my convatec wafer, but was told absolutely do not pick at it with my nails it is super damaging to the skin.

        1. Barb

          I also have both… I am still trying to find a appliance that sticks for at least four to five days.. This is due to cost of units and that i have. To use two …
          I also have adhesive allergy issues.
          Would love to shower daily.. But it loosens the appliance.. Grrrr

  23. Kurt

    I’ve only been home a week following ileostomy surgery and I agree, showering isn’t an issue.

    The only additional tip I would have is if you want to change your bag before a shower, give it enough to for the adhesive on the pouch take. I found that out the hard way! Preferably, change your bag after your shower!

    1. d

      kurt, only a week. i am a month ahead of u and ur giving advice and i am scrambling for advice still! urs helped so i will return the favor… life is so amazing after ur further in recovery. i can’t believe what my life was before the surgery. so if u eventually have a “down day” during recovery remember u have been thru the worst and u use to have “the guts” to face things, now u have ur strength and courage…

  24. Sara C.

    Hi Ernie, thank you so much for sharing your story. I can’t imagine going through all of that before modern medicine was available. You are an inspiration.

  25. Michele

    A little trick I learned for those that shower with their bag on….. Pick up some of the terry cloth baby bibs and put them on behind your bag while its drying so it doesn’t get your clothes wet or feel yucky on your skin !!

  26. Sanet

    Hi there. Will love to try it. I got stoma over year and its for ever. I can shower every 3rd day when i change bag. Bath is for other 2 days. Still thankful for everything

  27. carol

    Thanks so much for advice. I had surgery 1 week ago. So it’s ok to get stoma wet? I still have staples in. Can I get incision wet too?

    1. BG

      Hey Carol, My more complete story is posted here in Sept 2014. You can treat the appliances almost any way you would like. The stoma is very soft tissue for physical traumas, but water is not an issue. By now you are long past the incision, so that no longer matters.

  28. Jeannette

    Marshmallows are at the top of my shopping list as of right now!

    I’m only four weeks out of surgery for an ileostomy, so I’m still experimenting with a few different products as the stoma and surrounding area are still changing shape and size as my body heals. My stoma is an oval “innie” and I have a creases/divots on each side, but they’re becoming less pronounced as everything heals.

    Showering has been a challenge because I didn’t realize you could bathe while wearing the appliance! I thought it would compromise the tape, and with my leak issues, that’s the last thing I wanted.

    I’m currently showering every two to three days when I change my appliance (one piece Hollister with an oval convex wafer/seal thingy), and I go completely nekkid! It feels so good :). I don’t worry about the stoma output while in the shower – that’s what the drain is for – and I keep a spray bottle of bleach water for a quick spray down of the tub/shower after.

    And, like others have mentioned, I have everything ready to go prior to getting in the shower. I’m lucky that my husband helps with prep and application, otherwise I know this would be an ordeal I’d really be dreading.

    Thanks for all the great tips, tricks, and reassurances, especially regarding two piece systems. I’m hoping to move on to one of those after the stoma and surgery site have assumed their final form.

    Great topic and responses!

  29. mazl57

    Hello – Australia calling. I have a temporary ileostomy which I am hoping to have reversed when I finish my chemotherapy in October. I shower every morning as I have always done – I cant face the day without it – and change my bag every 2 to three days. It was very scary at first after my huge op in March but I am getting used to it now. I really look forward to the ‘changing of the bag’ day and I have a little ritual set up for it. I use a dansac convex bag with a soft seal attached. My stoma does not stick out very far so I have to encourage it by using the seal. The colo-rectal nurse in hospital gave me a great tip. I use dry makeup remover pads to clean the area around and on the stoma – they are great – just the right size and after my shower I just pop one on the stoma while I dry off and prep the stoma for the new bag. Showering in the morning before I eat means that there is only small output for me but I love the Marshmallow tip – I’ll be giving it a go. This experience has definitely changed my life and given me a new appreciation for what humanity can go through and still live a normal life day to day. I look at people on the tram going to work and wonder what their life holds – and reading peoples experiences here is very helpful and – really quite wonderful.


    Went to my surgeon begged him not to take my whole colon ?? he said it must go go go …I said hey doc how bout a Semi-colon and he said no no no ….

  31. colleenreid2014

    I’m looking after my moms colostomy its a two pouch system. I kept felling I was doing something wrong the hospital told me it would need changing every 5 days after reading all your comments I feel better 3 days seams to be the longest her system makes it. She’s 85 and a heck of a trooper.

    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      That’s so great that she has you to help her through all of it! But yes, there is no across-the-board days of wear. There are a lot of factors that go into how long a pouch will last for each person. There may be other options that give longer wear, or simply 3 days may be the best rotation for her. Let us know if you have other questions!


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