Stoma Care

Stoma Care

In this section you can find helpful information and advice on looking after your stoma including skincare, travel, irrigation, surgery and the different types of stoma.

With 160,000 people in the UK living with a stoma, you’re not alone. Many ostomates find a toilet card useful to aid clear and efficient communication when you need to use a toilet urgently – apply for your FREE Just Can’t Wait Card.

Our Bladder & Bowel Home Delivery Service can also offer you expert advice from a trained nurse about stoma care and help you find the right products to manage your condition. For more information on ostomies and stoma care products call our Home Delivery Team on 0800 031 5406.

Below you can read about our recommendations on ‘stoma care’, including stoma assessment and stoma cleaning:

What is a stoma?

A stoma is an opening on the abdomen, where a small portion of your intestine will have been brought to the surface of your belly and sewn in place. This type of operation normally happens if you’ve had an injury or disease in the bowel and allows your body to expel faeces in a different way. A bag is then worn over the stoma to collect any waste.

There are three more common types of stoma

Colostomy – where a portion of your large bowel (colon) is used to create a stoma. 

Ileostomy – where a portion of the ileum (small bowel) is used to create a stoma

Urostomy – where a portion of the ileum is taken and connected to the ureters to bypass the bladder and create an urinary diversion. This is also known as an ileal conduit.

Caring for your stoma

Whilst you are in hospital, your stoma nurse will show you the correct way to care for your stoma, change your bag and order new supplies. Once you are out of hospital you will be able to  order your stoma supplies through the Bladder and Bowel Community Home Delivery Service.

In general, if  you have a colostomy you will change your closed bag one to two times a day and if you have an ileostomy or a urostomy, you will need to empty your bag several times a day and change your bag every three to five days depending on the wear.

Stoma appearance straight after surgery

After surgery your stoma will be swollen and will likely have stitches around it. Over the next eight weeks or so, your stoma will reduce and settle into its new size. Occasionally, you may find that your stitches pull and can be uncomfortable. If this happens, inform your stoma nurse so that can assess them. If you find that your stoma remains swollen or shows signs of infection, then contact your stoma nurse or colorectal surgeon straight away.

Normal Stoma Appearance

Through regularly checking your stoma, you will come to know how it normally looks meaning you can spot issues early on. A healthy stoma will be pink or red in colour, moist and slightly shiny.

Your stoma can change shape or size over time. This can mean that your bag no longer fits properly and your skin could be exposed to the contents of the stoma bag. To avoid this issue from arising, every few months you should check the size of your stoma. A cardboard measuring guide is normally included with your stoma bags and can be used to check the size of your stoma. If you need help, speak to your stoma nurse and then can show you how to do this and, if necessary, offer some advice on products that fit better.

Cleaning and changing your stoma bag

When changing your stoma bag, it is a good idea to assess your stoma and the surrounding peristomal skin to check it’s in good shape. Things to check are 

  • Is the hole of my baseplate the right size for me? If faeces come into contact with the skin it can cause soreness and irritation of the skin.
  • Is there any redness, irritation, cuts or broken skin. If you do have any of these things then your stoma nurse can recommend products to help with this.
  • Does my stoma look healthy? Does anything look unusual or different to you. If there is anything unusual then contact your stoma nurse for advice.

How to clean a stoma site

When cleaning a stoma site, it is important to use recommended products. The easiest way to clean your stoma site is to gently wash it with warm water using the dry wipes provided and then pat dry thoroughly using a clean dry wipe. Avoid using paper towels as these can get stuck to the stoma, always use dry cotton wipes. It’s important to remember not to rub the stoma as this may cause it to become damaged.

The following articles may be helpful towards your stoma care journey:

Stoma Irrigation

Irrigation is a system of bowel management for a colostomy in which you ‘wash’ the bowel to encourage a bowel movement. Over time your bowel will adopt this regular habit, and you should not produce waste in between irrigation sessions.…

Diet And Exercise With A Stoma

If you have a stoma it may help to adjust your diet and exercise routine. Learn about stoma diet, and how being an ‘active ostomate’ can help you.

Stoma Skincare

Looking after your peristomal skin (the ring of your skin that sits under your bag) is a vital part of your stoma care routine. It is important to avoid faeces or urine from coming into contact with your skin otherwise this can cause sore…

Stoma Care Products

There are many different stoma care products for you to choose from. Your stoma nurse will probably help you choose one in the beginning. You may like to try some different pouches to see which type you find the most comfortable and most…

What To Expect After Your Stoma Surgery

Straight after your stoma operation What will my stoma look like? Don’t be alarmed by the size of your stoma for the first few weeks after surgery. Your abdomen and your stoma will both be quite swollen and your stoma may also ooze…

What To Expect Before Your Stoma Surgery

Your Preoperative Assessment Depending on your hospital you will probably be offered a pre-op assessment a few days/ weeks prior to your stoma surgery. This assessment will involve a meeting with your surgeon to discuss any last minute…

Stoma Surgery

What is a stoma? A stoma is an opening on the abdomen that can be connected to either your digestive or urinary system to allow waste (urine or faeces) to be diverted out of your body. It looks like a small, pinkish, circular piece of…

Ileostomy Surgery

What is an Ileostomy? An Ileostomy is created when your bowel is redirected out of your abdomen. An Ileostomy normally involves removing the colon and in some cases the rectum. The Ileium (last part of the small intestine) is brought to…

Colostomy Surgery

What is a Colostomy? A colostomy is created when your colon is cut and brought to the outside through the abdominal wall to create an artificial opening. Your faeces is then collected in a bag called a colostomy bag that is attached to…