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This article discusses how to care for your colostomy. There are several aspects of colostomy care. We will discuss them one by one.

Protecting the skin around the stoma

The skin around the stoma, also known as the peristomal skin, holds a critical value in colostomy care. It has to be as healthy as the skin elsewhere on the abdomen. Since its contact with the stomal output can result in irritation and soreness, you have to make sure to prevent this contact. Here is how you can avoid the stomal output from coming in contact with the peristomal skin.

  • First off, you have to make sure that you are using the right-sized ostomy pouch and skin barrier. A too-small opening of the skin barrier can raise the risk of your stoma getting injured. A too-large opening can expose a part of the peristomal skin to the stomal output. Make sure that the opening of your skin barrier fits well around the stoma.
  • You have to avoid leaks and resultant skin irritation. For this purpose, changing the ostomy pouch regularly is necessary. Ideally, you should change your ostomy pouch every 3-5 days.
  • While removing the old ostomy pouch, don’t pull the skin barrier in urgency. Remove it gently, and make sure that you are not injuring your skin during the process. Also, do not remove an ostomy pouch more than once a day unless you have a problem.
  • To clean the skin around your stoma, use water only. Avoid using soaps containing oils and perfumes.
  • Be mindful of allergic reactions in the peristomal skin. If you notice anything unusual there, do not wait for the problem to become worse. Contact your doctor or ostomy care nurse immediately.

Colostomy irrigation

If you do not want to use an ostomy pouch due to your lifestyle preferences or other reasons, you can irrigate your colostomy. Colostomy irrigation is ideal when you have a descending or sigmoid colostomy that produces firm stools. Through this process, you have to instill water into your stoma. That will help regulate your bowel movements.

Whether or not you can irrigate your colostomy depends entirely on your requirements and bowel health. You have to speak to your doctor or ostomy care nurse before deciding on using this procedure to eliminate the need to wear an ostomy pouch. The nurse will give you a thorough explanation of the equipment required and the procedure.

Emptying and changing your colostomy pouch

You will learn how to empty and change your ostomy pouch during your hospital stay. You will not need sterile supplies for these procedures.

Here is how to empty your ostomy pouch.

  • First off, you have to empty your ostomy pouch when it is one-third to half full.
  • Sit on the toilet as far back as possible.
  • Place a layer of tissue paper in the toilet to reduce the risk of splashing.
  • Remove the clip from the bottom of the ostomy pouch.
  • Unroll the tail of the pouch over the toilet.
  • Empty the contents into the toilet gently.
  • Use toilet paper to clean the outside and inside of the pouch tail.
  • Roll up the tail and secure it with the clip.

Changing your ostomy pouch regularly allows you to prevent problems from developing. To know when to change your ostomy pouch, you have to see what type of ostomy pouch you are using. Some ostomy pouches require a change every day, some every three days, and some every week.

Living with a colostomy

Having to care for a colostomy doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to an active and healthy lifestyle routine. You can go swimming, hiking, running, and pretty much everything you enjoyed before surgery. You can also eat everything you want once your bowel recovers from the impact of surgery. You may have to adopt a new diet routine, though. The best approach is to discuss everything with your ostomy care nurse.