Bag changes are a natural part of having a stoma. They’re probably one of the scariest things when you first have your stoma too. I remember when I first saw how to change a stoma bag. I thought I’d never remember all of the steps and I’d be permanently doing it wrong. It’s very overwhelming when at first, especially if it’s emergency surgery, so here’s a little step by step guide on how to change your stoma bag as well as a little chat about all things bag changes.
A Step by Step guide to change your stoma bag
Preparation is key when it comes to changing your stoma bag so make sure you have everything ready before you begin and in reaching distance. Have your fresh bag cut to size, your gauze/cotton wipes easy to get to and your plastic bag ready to put all the rubbish into. Then we begin…
- Use your medical adhesive remover to take off your bag. Spray it onto the flange of your stoma bag and peel off. I really recommend having one of the gauze squares in your hand to put onto the stoma. Just incase it’s active, you can catch any of the poo which comes out.
- Clean your stoma. Using the gauze wipes, clean the stoma and the surrounding skin. I usually use some warm water as well which really helps. Make sure you get underneath the stoma too; it’s harder to see here so it’s important to make sure it’s clean. It can be tricky if the stoma is being active. I always make sure that I have gauze ready to catch any poo which comes out and you eventually just get used to cleaning around it.
- Use LBF barrier wipes. LBF wipes are fab and put a barrier on your skin to help with irritation and soreness. They’re also really good at getting off any sticky left from the previous bag. I don’t always do this step but I always do if I’m experiencing redness on the skin. Let the skin breath for about a minute before heading onto the next step as it needs to dry!
- Put on your clean bag! There’s nothing better than that fresh bag feeling. Make sure you’ve not got too mush skin bare around your stoma (I always make this mistake and get sore skin!). If you’re unsure of your stoma size, get in touch with your stoma nurses for help. They also have measuring guides in most of the boxes your bags come in!
Thats your basic bag change procedure for you! I’m currently in the process of setting up my YouTube channel again so I might do a timelapse video for you all too! (Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in!)
How often should I change my stoma bag?
How often you change your bag differs from person to person. I’ve heard of some people changing every day and others who change once a week.
I tend to change my bag every other day, co-inciding with showers. When it’s really hot, it tends to be daily but I don’t like doing this too much because my skin gets sore from constantly changing the bag. The longest I’ve gone without changing is 4 days.
How often should I be emptying my bag?
Look at how many supplies you have and what feels comfortable to you. In the UK we have the luxury of free stoma products on the wonderful NHS however I know abroad, especially the USA, there isn’t this luxury.
Again, this completely changes on the day and the person. I tend to empty 4 times a day, depending on how much I’ve eaten/drank and how warm it is.
Rule of thumb for emptying is when it’s half full to to thirds, or when I’m going to the toilet. There’s no rule as to when and how to empty your bag BUT don’t let it get too full otherwise you bag will start leaking.
How do you change your stoma bag when you’re in public?
I hate having to change my bag in public. Luckily, I haven’t had to do it too much! I need to listen to my own advice here because it’s really important to remember to bring spare bags with you wherever you go. There’s going to be a blog post soon about what I have in my handbag stoma bag but here’s the supplies I keep in my main bag!
SecuriCare are one of the fab companies who you can get a radar key from. Having a radar key means you can access any disabled toilet and it is a fab thing to have! When it comes to changing your bag in public toilets, it’s always easier to use disabled toilets as often they have a baby change table in too which you can use to put your stuff on.
Next week we’re talking all about choosing the right bag so if you have any questions, pop them in the comments!