Lots of people ask me how I care for my stoma, they are intrigued especially in regards to what the process involves.
So here I’ve braved my routine to help raise awareness! There’s no perfect routine, it takes time and practise to establish a good routine that works for you and one in which you are confident with.
I have an ileostomy, due to the watery output (poo) it is advised that you change your bag every 2-3 days. I prefer to change my bag every 24 hours after having a shower. I may have to change my bag at any time if the adhesive breaks down, it doesn’t stick well or I have a leak. I have now learnt to take care of my stoma anywhere and in any situation. So far I’ve done bag changes in plane toilets, festivals and even in the back of a car!
There are lots of products available to those who have a stoma. However, I choose to use a 1-piece drainable bag – Coloplast Sensura Mio! It is the newest and seems to have the best technology that suits me. Having a drainable bag means I can empty my bag multiple times in a 24 hour period without having to change my appliance.
1. Here is an image of the appliance I currently use. The Velcro is rolled down to demonstrate how I empty my bag. Once I’ve emptied the content of my bag I wipe the end with a wipe and roll it back up. This is done for hygienic reasons.
2. Here you see an image of a base plate, this is the template frequently used to cut the correct sizing of a stoma or if you’re like me you cut from memory. Stomas are usually measured in mm.
3. Here are the accessories I use during a bag change. I frequently use a mouldable ring as I have a dip in my skin where my scar is so a ring makes my bag feel more secure. Rings sit between your skin and the baseplate creating a tight seal. I usually use 2 types of wipes, one to remove the adhesive from previous appliances and another to create a barrier film. Barrier films create a layer over your skin protecting from irritation and burning. The half crescent stickers are called flange extenders (always cracks me up) they are used to make sure my bag stick to my skin securely.
4. Here’s an image of my stoma in all its glory. Before applying a new bag the faeces will need to be cleaned from the surrounding skin, areas irritated and the stoma it’s self. I use wipes and dermetologicaly tested soap to clean the above areas. It is important to dry the skin once it’s been cleaned. No appliances will stick or create a good seal if the skin is wet.
5. Here is an image of my stoma which has been cleaned effectively! Once clean and dry, I then use the 2 wipes discussed earlier. Taking care to ensure they are used evenly and used in gaps and cracks surrounding the stoma.
6. The image below captures a breakdown of the surrounding skin caused by poo seeping under the seal and burning the skin. For this type of irritation I use a powder which drys up the wound promoting healing. Don’t worry this type of skin breakdown is normal for me, it’s not painful just itchy!
7. After applying the powder evenly, I attach the moldable ring to the baseplate. As shown below. You need to peel back the plastic, align the stoma bag over the stoma as shown below. The stoma has to go through the centre and sit in the middle. It’s important to place it correctly.
8. After placing the bag correctly, I find my appliances set adequately if I apply heat! This works by pressing my hand on and around the stoma seal for 2 mins or put the hairdryer on a low setting. I then add the half moon shaped stickers these are called flange extenders (I know funny name, cracks me up everytime).
9. After applying a bag its important to check the bag sits properly and it fits snug around the stoma. If there’s too much of a gap between the stoma and the baseplate poo can get in the gap and break your skin down like the above breakdown picture. If it’s too tight and is cut too small it can encourage leaking as there’s not enough breathing space. So its important you get a good fit and seal to avoid bags leaking.
10. Finally roll down the flap and pinch the bottom of the bag like shown below, this allows better emptying of the bag and prevents bits of poo and food getting stuck it feels more hygienic.
11 .Roll back up and apply Velcro! Don’t forget to do this or when your bag fills up it’ll run straight down your leg! Collect all your used supplies, put the rubbish in the bin and wash your hands and wipe the sink down.