Bathing with an Ostomy

Bathing with an Ostomy

I have been quite shocked recently by the nurses in my hospital on the Urology and the Colorectal ward's telling patients that you can NEVER have a bath with a stoma. While I was admitted I met an ostomate who had his stoma for 5 years and has never had a bath because of this advice. This frustrated me and after talking to urostomates in the Facebook group  Urostomy Awareness, other people have also experienced this. It makes me sad that there are some ostomates out there who have not had a bath since their surgery.Not everybody has had this advice and I was glad that some Doctors have advised that it is good for the peristomal skin. So here is a post about bathing with an ostomy.

It goes without saying that after any type of ostomy surgery whether open surgery (laparotomy) or keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery the scars need to be fully healed before you can have a long shower or go in the bath. However, regarding bathing with a stoma I think Healthcare Professionals need to be more aware of the information they are giving out. Don’t get me wrong I have had AMAZING care at times and I wouldn’t be here without them, however, there are some areas to do with ostomies and especially urostomies that more education is definitely needed.

So...Bathing With An Ostomy!

Bath[Picture of me in the bath Rocking my bags!]

For me, a bath! It is the only time in my mad day where I actually stop, breathe and can be at one with myself and the bubbles! The longest I was not able to bathe or shower was for 10 months when I had an open wound.

Sometimes when we get our ostomy the simplest everyday tasks can become more complicated. We are learning to navigate life with a stoma and this can be nerve-wracking at first.  My advice regarding bathing is once your scar is healed and you get the okay from your doctor, just give it a go... why, deny yourself a human right. It is trial and error and you will work out what is best for you.

Now Do I Bathe...Bag On Or Bag Off?

This is a fascinating question and I believe it is down to your personal preference. Over the groups, some ostomates always bath with their bags off then they will put a new bag on after. Some, however, leave their bags on.

Personally, because I am a double bagger and have a prolapsed ileostomy I do not go bagless due to a very active stoma and fear of some faeces contaminating my urostomy and causing a conduit or kidney infection. I make sure I have some fresh bags ready to apply after my bath (although sometimes if the seals are fine I will leave them on!)

I have also noticed in the groups that some Drs have advised to bathe with the bags off because it helps with the peristomal skin. Again I think this decision is down to you and whether you feel comfortable to do this. Some ostomates find it quite freeing and I guess if you have sore skin it can help by soaking this. This is no right or wrong way, it is about finding what is best for you.

Drying your appliance

Again it depends if you bathe with your bag on and off and if you want fresh bags straight after. Louise at Crohns Fighting prefers this and coincides her bath with her bag change. I am not always this organised and if my Coloplast Brava extenders are ok and there is no peeling I will keep them on.

I just make sure that my two bags are very dry. I use  Coloplast Sensura Mio Convex for my ileostomy and urostomy. These are great for drying because with the material the water repels off it. Some other fabric covered pouches can absorb the water and then they need to be dried thoroughly. I have read a few posts about some people using a low setting hairdryer to make sure the base plate is dry. Also, some people have developed very creative options for keeping the appliance dry; plastic pouch covers, shower aprons and cling film.

My suggestion is to enjoy your bath and to KEEP IT SIMPLE! Work out what works best for you, whether you leave your bag on or not and give it a go...

Here are some pictures of proud ostomates baring all in the bath (with their permission) .

So do you bath bag on or bag off? I would love to here from you.

Bath2  [Steve Jukes in the bath] 

Bath4    [Nataile aka The Spoonie Mummy]    

Bath 4                [Louise aka Crohns Fighting]               

Bath3[Stephie aka Colitis to Ostomy]

Written by : Rachel Jury

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