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Colorectal Cancer: Ostomy

How To Care For An Ostomy And Stoma

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  • As a general tip, pouches should be changed:
    • When they are about one-third full and before you go to bed.  Excessive material may cause the pouch to pull away from the skin resulting in leakage, odor or infection of nearby skin.
    • Before engaging in sex or sports.
    • If you are having a spell of diarrhea.
    • Immediately before travel.
  • Disposable pouches can be emptied into the toilet before being wrapped and put into the trash or they can be disposed of full if well wrapped.
  • With a reusable pouch, first put some toilet tissue into the toilet bowl to prevent splash-back.  After emptying carefully clean and deodorize the pouch.  (Consider getting three pouches: one to wear, one for washing and one for emergencies).
  • You can minimize the risk of odors by:
    • Eating foods which reduce the risk and avoid foods which produce gas (see below).
    • Being sure the attachment to the skin fits well and is firmly attached.
    • Releasing gas which may be in the bag in a safe environment such as a bathroom.
  • For instruction about caring for an ostomy:

The Stoma

  • Properly fitting pouches are essential to prevent problems of the stoma. There should be a distance of l/8th inch between the stoma and the opening of the ostomy appliance
  • The stoma itself is self cleaning. The skin around the stoma must be protected from:
    • Bacteria and intestinal digestive enzymes which can break down skin, which is then likely to be infected by fecal bacteria. (The bacteria and enzymes are good when inside your system. They are not good for skin.)
    • Scratches or scrapes which can occur from ostomy attachments and which can become infected.
  • Check the stoma every time that you change the appliance. The color should be beefy red. The stoma should be moist.
  • Never irrigate your stoma with water you wouldn’t put into your mouth. For informaiton about safe drinking water, click here.

The sun

Do not keep supplies in the sun, even in the winter.


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