Living with a stoma can bring about unique challenges, and one of the key aspects of stoma care is knowing when and how often to change your stoma bag. Whether you have a colostomy or an ileostomy, the frequency of bag changes varies. In this article, we will explore the factors that influence bag changes and provide step-by-step guidance on how to change your stoma bag with ease.
Frequency of Stoma Bag Changes
If you have a colostomy and use a closed bag, you’ll typically change your pouch after each bowel movement. This usually amounts to approximately 1 to 3 times a day. The closed bag is designed for one-time use and is discarded after emptying.
For individuals with an ileostomy, they usually wear a drainable pouch. With this type of bag, you can empty it throughout the day as needed. Generally, the pouch itself is changed every 2-3 days or whenever you feel your wafer (the adhesive part) can last without compromising your comfort.
Changing Your Stoma Bag
A Step-by-Step Guide
Changing your stoma bag may seem daunting initially, but with practice, it will become a routine task that takes only a few minutes. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:
Before starting, ensure you have all the necessary supplies within reach. This includes unfragranced wet wipes, dry wipes, adhesive remover spray or wipes, your stoma bag, barrier spray/rings or paste, and a disposal sack.
If needed, cut your stoma bag to the correct size. Many home delivery companies can pre-cut bags for you, making this step easier.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before beginning to ensure a clean environment.
Protect Your Clothing:
To prevent any spillages on your clothes, tuck some tissues or dry wipes around your waistband.
Remove the Old Bag:
Holding the skin around your stoma taut, begin peeling back the stoma bag slowly and carefully using the adhesive remover spray. Placing tissue or dry wipes over the top of the bag where you’ve peeled it back can help avoid spillages. Dispose of the old bag in the disposal sack.
Clean the Skin:
Gently clean the peristomal skin using warm water and dry wipes. If you’re on the go, un-fragranced wet wipes can be used for convenience.
Pat your skin dry with dry wipes rather than rubbing to prevent irritation.
Dispose of Wipes:
Dispose of any used wipes into the disposal sack.
Apply Barrier Products:
If you use barrier rings, sprays, or paste, apply them now. Ensure they are completely dry before applying your new bag.
Apply the New Bag:
To apply your new bag, fold back the wafer in half to align the hole with your stoma. Starting from the bottom, roll the bag over your stoma and smooth the wafer down to eliminate any creases or gaps. Cover your hand over the top of the wafer to aid adhesion.
Dispose and Clean:
Dispose of the used disposal sack in your regular refuse and wash your hands thoroughly to maintain hygiene.
Changing your stoma bag is an essential aspect of stoma care, and with practice, it becomes a routine part of your daily life. Remember to follow these steps, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your stoma nurse or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about stoma care. Proper bag changes are crucial for your comfort, confidence, and overall well-being as you adapt to life with a stoma.