When it comes to colostomies, there’s a few things that you can do after you get the surgery. We’ll discuss this here, and also what these care tips can do for you. 

Protecting the Skin that’s Around the Stoma 

The skin that’s around there will look just like the rest of the abdomen. At first, this may be a little sore and tender, but there are a few things to do. 

First, make sure that you’re using the right skin barrier and pouch for this. Make sure it isn’t too small since it can make the stoma swell up. If it’s too big, the output will get out of there, hurting the skin. If that happens, change and adjust as needed. 

Make sure you change the pouch on a regular basis to prevent irritation of the skin. Don’t wait for leaks or burning and itching, just get into the habit of a schedule. Be careful when you do pull the pouch away, since it needs to be done gently. Gently pull it away from the barrier rather than just yank it, since it can irritate the skin 

When you’re cleaning the skin, make sure to do it with water. Don’t use soap or anything, and always make sure that you do dry the skin fully before throwing on a pouch or barrier again. 

Irrigation 

For those who have sigmoid or descending colostomies, you may use irrigation, which pushes stool out of the colon.  This is a good way to manage it as well, to control the bowel movements if you’re someone who doesn’t want to wear a pouch. But they’re not as popular these days, since technology has improved the pouches for many. 

Whether you want to irrigate or not is ultimately at your discretion. When you choose to do this, you’ll learn directly from the doctor or the nurse themselves who this is done. It’s a little different for everybody. 

The biggest factors to consider are of course the following: 

  • How active you are 
  • Bowel habits 
  • Skin and comfort associated with the irrigation 
  • Feelings about your colostomy 

If you do choose to do this, you want to find the methods that best match the normal habits. You may try different things, at first maybe once a day, or a few times a dy. By doing this regularly, you will then have much regular bowel movements, which is a good thing for this to work. 

To do this, do the following: 

  • First, get the things you need, such as the irrigating container with a tip or cone, an irrigation sleeve to push the output out, the tail closure clip to offer more support 
  • From there clamp the tubes to there, and then throw a quart of water that is lukewarm into the container.  Don’t ever do it to the faucet directly.
  • Hand this at a height that allows for the bottom to be near the shoulder when seated 
  • Sit near the toilet or on the toilet straight 
  • Seal the irrigation sleeve 
  • Wet the cone to lubricate, or use a lubricant 
  • Get rid of any air bubbles in the clamp, and then push it as far as it can 
  • Open the clamp up and let the water flow into the bowels.
  • Hold it in place till the water goes in. how much is required depends on the body
  • Wait about the water to go in and then get rid of the cone, and then wait for the stool to come out in little spurts

And there you have it, colostomy care tips for you!

Irrigating the bowel management for colostomies may not be something you have to do, but if you struggle with bowel movements, this can be a thing. 

This is typically something that you will do as well when the bowel is not used to doing a movement, encouraging it of course to start the process. 

This is don’t usually when people may not be having a bowel movement for about 72 or so hours. Usually, it’s up to 48 hours, but for those who have colostomies, they feel much more in control of this, and irrigating is something that could be used. 

Who does Irrigation 

Not every type of stoma can irrigate. 

Typically, you need to have the following: 

  • Have the end colostomy near the lower level of the colon in order to create bowel movements that are kind of solid 
  • You’re dexterous and have good eyesight since this process can be hard to manage 
  • Patience and time to do this 
  • Your stoma nurse allows it. 

For those that have hernias and are undergoing treatments such as chemo and radiation, you may not be allowed to do this. If you have Crohn’s or have heart or even renal conditions, you can’t do this. If you’re going through dialysis that causes an overload of fluids, you can’t do this either. 

But if you’re going to improve your stoma and do qualify, then you definitely may want to consider this process. 

Starting and Learning Irrigation 

Irrigation is something that you start by talking to the surgeon or nurse, and figuring out if this is the right kind of bowel management that you can have. 

You typically can start this immediately after surgery, but it’s best if you don’t do it until you’ve had the stoma and adjusted a bit, and also aren’t in the middle of any other therapies as well. So expect it about 2-ish months in. 

To learn this, you typically go in and you learn directly from the nurse itself. They may possibly come to you. 

It’s incredibly important to perform this I the correct manner, since a lot of people do feel nauseous when they feel water in the bowels. They may also experience some kind of cramps. This gets you acclimated, and also makes you comfy before doing this. 

Why Do this? 

Irrigating your stoma does have some benefits, especially when feeling confident abut this type of process. 

Some of the benefits include: 

  • You control your stoma output 
  • You can irrigate and have bowel movements when it’s convenient 
  • You don’t have to wear a big bag, and you may even be allowed to wear caps over the stoma, improving confidence 
  • Helps you not have to worry about any possibilities of the bag leaking, which is definitely a big thing 

But here are a couple of things that you should definitely consider. They’re not necessarily downsides, just important things to understand: 

  • This can take up to an hour to do 
  • You may feel your stomach grow upset, or even have diarrhea when you start this 
  • You need to do this regularly at the same type of intervals. If you break this routine, it will impact the output of the stool. 

And there you have it, everything that the average reader needs to learn about irrigation. 

It’s not something for everyone, and it can feel bad for a lot of people, but there are people who benefit from this, so definitely consider it if you can, since it can impact the overall benefits of it as well. 

There are plenty of different products that you can use to care for the stoma. At first, the nurse will choose it, but you may get a different type of pouch as well.

All stomas either come with bags that are closed, drainable or open, and also include a flat or convex wafer, but also there are other accessories to help with the skin and the security of the bag as well. 

Here, we’ll go over the best stoma care products to use, especially if you’re looking to truly get the bet stoma care possible

First, the bags! 

First, let’s talk stoma care bags. 

The first one is a closed bag, one without openings, and usually is used for colostomies, especially those who have a stool that is solid and is changed as needed. 

Then you have the drainable or open bag, which is used for those that have a liquid output, typically for ileostomies, and usually, they’re emptied from the bottom portion when necessary, and are changed every 3-4 days or so. Some may prefer this if they have higher stoma output 

Then there is the urostomy bag, which has a tap that drains the urine as needed. These usually are changed every few days. 

You have options as well: one-piece or two pieces. One-piece bags are when the wafer and the system itself are then put together and they both need to be changed. However, these are much flatter to the body. 

Then there is the two-piece, which is the wafer or base and the bag, so you just have to change the bag a bit. These are better for those who have sensitive skin, in order to prevent irritation. 

You also have convex wafers and bags that are pushing the stoma outwards if it’s inverted, to prevent leaks. 

Stoma Cap 

If you’re someone who prefers not to wear a bag, then you might get a chance to possibly wear a bag or a cap that is easier to take off during irrigations. 

The cap is circular and comes with a filter that’s worn over your stoma. They are much more discreet, and you don’t’ have to wear a bag. If you have a mucous fistula, you may also wear these too. 

Sprays, Wipes, and Waste 

When it comes to stoma products,  it isn’t just the barrier and the bag, but there are other things as well. 

First, you’ve got the remover and adhesive sprays, which are used to attach the bag without worrying about damaging the skin. They offer both scented and unscented, depending on your comfort. 

The barrier rings along with the paste are then used to help fill in the cracks, gaps, or creases that are around the stoma, in order to prevent the output from seeping underneath the bag, creating leaks or hurting the skin. There are many types out there, and you can order these directly from the supplier too. 

Then you have the barrier sprays and powders, which are used if you’re using the wafter, and you have sensitive skin. This does prevent damages too. 

It also can help with sticking much more effectively too. 

You can get fragranced ones, and even little drops that the ostomate can use inside the pouch, along with a lot of different ways to also neutralize odors. You can order these too. 

Finally, we have wafer extenders, which are put around the outer portion of the bag to create the bigger wafer location and better security for your bag. If you’re swimming or wearing this for a bit longer, it’s good to use. 

And there you have it, the most popular accessories. 

Having stomas shouldn’t affect travel, but instead just requires planning in advance. Here are some helpful tips to aid you when traveling while with a stoma

Make Sure to Have Ample Supplies. 

This should be obvious, but you should make sure that you have enough supplies to change your pouch more.  Pouches also are subjected to heat, and if you are changing your diet, this may require you to change the bag more. 

It’s important to at least have double of what’s normally used, and if you haven’t ordered ahead of time, it’s in your best interest to do so. 

Pack in The Carry On 

This is also an obvious one, but you shouldn’t pack this in the checked bags. If it does get misplaced, you may have to pay more for replacements, and it may not be possible.  You should definitely see if you can pack it in the carry-on, and if you don’t have room, ask if you can have a second carry-on for medical reasons. 

You may want to take wipes instead of sprays, since there is no size limit, and you should make sure pre-cut the wafers before you put them in. 

Use RADAR 

The worst thing that can happen is if you’re in the UK, you may not know where a good restroom is to change out the stoma bag. You should consider getting a RADAR key for free if you haven’t already. There is also a “just can’t wait” card to help you get a toilet quicker when you need to change. You can get them by ordering them and making sure you also have it as a digital smartwatch tool that’s easy to use! 

Stoma Travel Insurance 

It’s important to make sure that if you do need treatment while you’re traveling, you can have this arranged. Travel insurance is good especially if you do have to get it done in the event of an emergency. You also should declare these health issues to a travel insurance agent. That way, you can get the coverage that’s fitting for you. 

Health insurance Cards 

You should also make sure that you have health insurance when you are traveling that covers stays in other places, whether abroad or within the country. 

If this has expired, you might need to reapply for this, so that you can get the healthcare necessary. You also may want to check your travel insurance though to see if it covers the same stuff that your health insurance does. If you need insurance for one condition that health insurance doesn’t cover, make sure to fix this accordingly. 

Drink Bottled Water 

Finally, make sure that no matter where you’re traveling, you try to drink bottled water. 

Some places have water that’ll upset stomachs, and make you sick normally, and for those who have an ostomy bag, it’s even harder for you to deal with. to prevent that from happening, you should make sure that you have bottled water on handle to help soothe those empty stomachs. 

In the event that you can’t get bottled water for one reason or another, you want to make sure that you’ve got a travel kettle on hand so that you can heat up the water to get rid of impurities before you do have it. It also is good if you plan to make coffee or tea, since it’ll help to heat this up. 

And there you have it, the best tips for traveling as an ostomate. It’s important to prepare, so make sure that you do take the time to prepare. 

For those that don’t know, a stoma is when you get a surgery where there’s an opening created in the abdomen that’s then connected to either your bowels or your urinary tract in order to get rid of waste from the body. 

It’s not that big, a pink color, and is circular and sewn directly to the body. It may be flat or protrude out a little bit, kind of like a spout. 

Then, at the top of the opening, you put a pouch there, and that’s how the waste is then collected.  You may be able to dispense it at the bottom or in other locations. 

Because the stoma doesn’t have any nerves or anything, this isn’t painful. 

So when do you get a stoma? It’s usually when a part of the bowels or the urinary tract are diseased, oftentimes due to IBD or even cancer. 

Usually, they’re either temporary measures, or permanent ones. Now that you’ve understood that though, let’s go into stoma surgery. 

What Happens Before Surgery 

Stoma surgery is a little scary since it may be hard to be acclimated to wearing the ostomy bag. But once you’ve managed to recover from this, you will be able to live a normal life, minus some adjustments. 

You may worry about what this looks like, or even feels and smells like, but these surgeries are done to look discreet, so you don’t have to worry about it being super obvious or anything. 

So before surgery, usually the nurse will take your bloodwork, check on your weight, and also go through the different parts of this. You also may get a laxative to clean out your bowel. They’ll mark where they’ll do the incisions and also where the stoma will be located, typically without folds or creases. Usually, for colostomies, they’re on the left, and the rest are on the right. 

The surgery length is dependent upon the type of surgery, but usually, an end colostomy keyhole takes about 90 or so minutes. 

During the Surgery 

You will obviously be knocked out for this, and then, they’ll do the stoma replacement. 

Typically, the initial pouch will be a clear one so that you can see what it looks like. You may only eat or drink the liquids for a little bit before you can eat solid foods. Once the soma is active and you are passing bowel movements, then you’ll be able to recover. Typically, this takes up to 5 days, but this also dependent on how the stoma is working. A nurse will also visit you to show you how the pouch changing is done. 

And that’s all there is for it. It’s a bit of a rude awakening for some people since it does involve a few different parts to this, but of course for a lot of people, this can be the big change that they need, since of course, it can help them pass bowel and urine movements without of course, it being a problem for you. 

You also will learn how to change the pouches and the accessories. You may try out different kinds in order to see which types are bet for you, and which ones are the best for security. You will also get different types of bags, depending on the type of surgery. 

It does take a little bit to get used to, but luckily, it isn’t a problem forever, and a lot of people can definitely benefit from this, which is why even though it’s a bit of an invasive surgery, it can definitely help you.