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How Often Should an Ostomy Bag Be Changed?

Generally speaking, you will have 3 to 5 days of wear time between pouch changes.

If you find yourself going through a lot of pouches and are experiencing frequent leakage, you should contact your ostomy nurse. They are your greatest resource for information regarding your pouch system and ostomy supplies.

Many people find it helpful to schedule their ostomy pouch changes early in the morning or late in the evening right before bed.  A lot of people say that their stomas are less active during these times, but obviously that is not true for everyone.  You will need to get to know your habits, and plan the best time for you. 


Ostomy Bag Change Tips

These tips will help you care for your stoma and keep track of when you should change ostomy appliances.

  • A good tip for keeping track of when you last changed your ostomy bag is to simply write the date on the new pouch itself.  You can use any permanent marker and this little extra step will save you any confusion later.
  • You can also use your phone to set an alert and that will remind you to check your ostomy wafer.
  • If at any time you are wearing your pouch, and you start to feel an itching or a burning sensation, you need to check your stoma as soon as possible.
  • If you feel any discomfort, check your stoma and the skin surrounding it to make sure you don't have a small leak and to make sure your skin is not red, irritated, or sore.
  • If your skin is sore around your stoma, there are skin irritation products designed to help your skin heal and avoid irritation in the future.  Stomahesive powders help to form a protective barrier, this not only protects the skin but it helps to extend the life of your wafer.

Checking your skin and getting to know how your stoma works is the best way to keep your skin healthy and happy.


How to Change a Stoma Bag

Here are the step by step instructions of how to change your stoma bag:

  • Make sure to thoroughly wash your hands and have all of your supplies ready to go. 
  • Carefully remove the ostomy bag you are currently wearing. Do not tug or pull the ostomy bag away from your skin. Instead, push the skin away from the adhesive ostomy wafer. 
  • Wash your stoma and the skin around it with a mild, fragrance-free soap or a stoma cleaning wipe. Allow your stoma to dry completely before applying your new pouch. 
  • Measure around your stoma using a measuring guide. This is typically included with your box of ostomy wafers. 
  • Trace the shape and size from your measuring guide onto the back of your new ostomy wafer. Cut out the hole with scissors. 
  • Remove the adhesive paper backing from the ostomy wafer. If you use stoma paste or barrier rings, apply it around the hole you just cut out of your ostomy wafer.
  • If any output has leaked from your stoma since you started your bag change, wipe it away with a stoma cleaning wipe or saline solution. 
  • If your stomal skin is currently irritated or weepy, this is the step when you apply stoma powder. Dust off any excess powder. 
  • If you use a two-piece pouch, connect your ostomy wafer and pouch together and then apply the ostomy system to your body. If you use a one-piece pouch, attach the entire appliance to your body.
  • Press gently on your ostomy wafer for a minute to ensure a good seal. 
  • If you use a drainable ostomy bag, seal the bottom of the pouch. 


Colostomy Bag Change Video 

We came across this wonderful video produced by youtube user "OstomyStory".  Laura shares some great information and has graciously agreed to allow us to pass on this information to you.  

Her self professed goal is to "give an honest and positive portrayal of life with an ostomy". We thank her for doing exactly that! 


When to Contact Healthcare Professionals 

Contact your health care provider if you experience any issues with your ostomy pouching system. These are the most common reasons to consult with your doctor:

  • Your stoma is leaking more than normal .
  • Your stoma is bleeding more than normal.
  • You have a skin rash or raw skin around the stoma.
  • You have discharge coming from the stoma that smells bad.


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