Recently a friend and I were discussing a complication that he had while swimming with his new ostomy. After giving him some advice on the situation, and with the heat of summer bearing down on us all, we wanted to present you with some helpful tips for beating the heat with your ostomy.
“He who fails to plan, plans to fail” We have all heard that old saying and it really can be applied to any aspect of our daily lives; swimming is no exception. Try your best to calculate your “transit time”, the time is takes the food you eat to travel from mouth to pouch, and eat your meals at a time that will allow you to have the least amount of output during your planned swimming. Most people will experience the least amount of output in the first few hours of the morning.
Your Ostomy Appliance Itself After changing a flange, the adhesive needs time to fully bond and cure to the body. Waiting a few hours, at the minimum, is highly encouraged to prevent a flange and pouch from coming loose in the pool. Best practice calls for applying your new flange the night before if possible and letting it cure overnight.
Flanges with waterproof tape built into a flexible ostomy system work the best. If you are not using a flexible flange, the next best option is to “picture frame” your flange with waterproof tape. Simply apply waterproof tape such as 3M Blenderm or MegaZinc Pink waterproof tapes, around all four sides of the flange, overlapping the corners, so it resembles a picture frame.
While the waterproof tapes are far more effective than paper tapes, covering 3M Micropore or Dynarex paper tapes with Skin Prep can make the paper tapes more waterproof. Apply the Skin Prep to your body, apply your flange as normal, “picture frame” your flange with your paper tape, and cover the tape again with Skin Prep for best results.
If you wear a belt with your ostomy appliance, remember that cloth belts will stretch in the water. It is better to switch to a rubber belt during your swimming session if you normally use a belt.
Mini non-drainable pouches may be more comfortable to use as well as having a lower profile under your swimwear than your usual pouching system. If you rinse and dry these pouches after every use, you may be able to reuse them several times for your swimming sessions.
While pouches with built-in filters are great for everyday use, you should avoid them for swimming. While submerged, water can get into the pouch through the filter. Water mixed with stool can soil your swimwear and cause leaks.
Best Choice Swimwear While we all should be perfectly comfortable with our ostomy and our bodies, the fact of the matter is that often times we do care what people see in or on our body. Remember that if you are trying to conceal your ostomy while at the pool, swimwear with solid colors will reveal your appliance. Try to find swimwear with a busy pattern to best camouflage your appliance. Women can even add skirts, bows, sashes, ties, drapes to help camouflage the appliance. While the best style of swimwear for men are the boxer style trunks.
For both men and women, a tight garment under your swimsuit can help hold the appliance in place. Biking shorts, spandex shorts, even the top of old panty hose, or a lightweight stretch panty girdle are all great for wearing under your suit to hold the appliance in place and to mask it’s appearance. For those skilled with a needle and thread, try sewing a pocket into the lining of your swimwear to hold your pouch. These ideas should help both men and women.
We hope that by following some of these tips you can peacefully enjoy the rest of the summer! We would love to hear more tips from our readers. Please feel free to comment with your tips for enjoying the pool this summer!