A colostomy is sometimes needed for certain medical conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or anal cancer, and other times it is used temporarily after an intestinal procedure. A colostomy is an incision that is made in the colon during surgery, and it allows for your stool to leave your body through an opening in your abdomen. The opening at the surface of your abdomen is called a stoma, which is where the stool drains into a changeable pouch. Dealing with a colostomy can be a very difficult aspect of your life, especially when it comes to changing your colostomy pouch. It is important to know how to take care of your colostomy pouch so that you can lower your risk of infections or serious medical complications. Here is a general guide on how to change your colostomy pouch but it might vary a little depending upon the type of pouch you have.
One of the most important aspects of knowing when to change your pouch is based upon what type of pouch you have. You should ask your doctor or nurse about the specific pouch style you have so they can give you directions on when it should be changed. Each type of pouch will vary the changing times and it is also important to know which type of colostomy you have. The type of stool you will have coming out of the pouch and the amounts are all factors in determining the best schedule to change it. Your doctor should be able to give you this type of information or if you are unsure you can call your doctor and ask for this type of specific information. If you are still in post-operational care then a nurse probably is coming by to help you out, so you can always ask them for information about the type of pouch you have.
The open-ended pouches are the easiest to change because you can empty the stool from the pouch into the toilet. Once you have emptied the pouch, you should remove it by pushing on your skin in a downward and away motion. You only use one hand during this motion as you move the pouch away from the adhesive skin barrier and your other hand should be pulling the pouch in an upward and away motion.
You want to cleanse the skin surrounding the stoma with warm water and a little soap if needed. If you use soap, you should stay away from soap that has perfumes or oils in them so that the skin does not become irritated. You can use a cloth or your hand to dry the area and for added comfort you can add non-fragranced baby powder or other skin protecting products. Look at the pouches you have and make sure that the opening of the pouch is about one-eighth of an inch bigger than the size of your stoma before you proceed.
Place the pouch over the stoma so that it is right in the center and then press it firmly down over top of the stoma. You want to make sure that your skin is completely dry before you place the pouch on your skin or else it will not stick very well and might irritate the skin, which can lead to infection. You should also hold the pouch into that position over your stoma for about a minute, to make sure that it sticks to your skin correctly. The skin barrier might be easier to apply by keeping your hand over the top of the pouch due to it helping the adhesive stick.
The last step in changing your colostomy bag is to get rid of the used pouch you just removed. You should place the used pouch in a small trash bag or brown bag and then proceed to throw that into the trashcan. Some people might use reusable pouches so it is important to know which kind you have so you do not throw away a reusable pouch. Your doctor is the best person to ask about pouch disposal because they are more likely to know which kind of pouch you are using.
You should also be aware that before you change your pouch and after you change your pouch, you should wash your hands. This might seem like common sense but a lot of people might not think about washing their hands before and after handling medical supplies and open wounds. It is always important to talk to your doctor about the type of pouch you have so that you can make sure you are caring for yourself the right way. By using this simple guide, you will likely have an easier time changing your colostomy pouch and it will become second nature.
Edgepark Medical Supplies Staff, “Emptying a Colostomy Bag”, Edgepark Medical Supplies