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Hints and Tips - Page 1

Hints and Tips - Page 2

If you have any hints and tips you'd like to add to this page
please fill out the form at the bottom.

The hints and tips on this page are by ostomates who have found that their particular piece of advice works for them. It may or may not work for you and neither the author of the hint nor the webmistress is liable if anything goes wrong whilst trying out any of these tips.

I have been an ostomate for about 5 months now due to Ulcerative Colitis. My biggest struggle was getting the flange to fit on properly without leaking. I was going through a flange every one or two days. My problem was that my stoma is in the shape of an oval not a circle and there are some kinda jagged parts around my stoma. I solved this by taking the little circle tracers that you find in the flange packages and I took one that was too big and I put it around my stoma and I taped it off and made a stencil with the exact shape of my stoma and now I use it as a tracer. I have had no trouble since then - I have had no leaks and I can leave my flange on for at least 5 days and it still won't have leaked at all. I use a Hollister two piece system. .....Ali

When camping, take with you zip-lock bags, an empty tobacco tin (to hold your zip-lock bag properly) and baby wipes. Camping made real easy and no mess! Try it! I also do this on our boat, especially if we are out most of the day! .....Baili

I have a very small stoma and hernia above which makes getting a seal with the base difficult, and I have had nightmares with leakage. I now use a convex two piece bag by Dansac (ladies they do mini pouches for this) and a product called Pelican Paste made by Pelican Healthcare Ltd, Cardiff Business Park, Cardiff CF4 5WF, England. You put this on the base and it sticks like magic to the contours. I also use a flushable one piece made by Silhouette, which means you can flush the waste away in a disposable bag which is inside the main bag ( Note: the flushable liners are for colostomates, not ileostomates - Shaz) and not leave it in bins, or be carrying it around till you go home if visiting friends. .....Susan

When will your clip fail??? When you least want it to... I bought a few "O" rings (small ones) that fit snuggly over the opening end of the closed clip this holds the clip closed even after the little tab wears out. Replace the clip regullarly, but the added insurance makes me a little more relaxed. If you want a drawing of how I do this, e-mail me and I will reply asap. .....John Hesse

I found that while sleeping, the waste always seemed to build up around the stoma making the chances better (which has happened) for leakage due to the pressure built up. I have trained myself to sleep on one side and wearing a 2 pc system, I can turn my pouch so that it goes across my stomach areas and thus drains much better. .....Tina

I`ve had my Ileostomy for four years now, and I`ve never had a flange coming loose. Why? I secure it with elasto strips after every change, and it works perfectly! .....Elizabeth

Getting into a mess after your shower and before you get the chance to put your new bag in place?

I have only been an ileostomate for 5 months, so I am sure there is a better way of doing things that I haven't found yet, but I have realised that if you put a piece of toilet tissue (a piece folded over a couple of times is good) over your stoma as soon as you get out of the shower that it holds there because you are wet and it sticks to you and it stops the stoma shooting out *** everywhere and making a mess (which is what used to happen to me until recently). If, of course you are having a particularly loose day then you will need to hold your hand over it too or change the toilet tissue a couple of times.

By doing this it allows you to dry your self and not stand and freeze whilst putting on a new pouch.

Let me know if you have any better tips for this problem. .....Chrissy B

I have only had the pleasure of having my stoma friend for a year but have come up with a few things that have helped me:

For those who are still very shy about being intimate with a pouch, try using a tube top and folding the pouch up once to totally conceal it under the tube top (which I bought one for under $2). Of course instead of wearing it around your chest, pull it down to go around your waist. Although it may not be the most attractive thing to have on during those special moments-it Does look better than the pouch. The other benefit to this is that it keeps the bag from getting in the way of your partner.

When I am about to empty my pouch, I always cuff (roll up) the tail once or twice before so that when I am done I don't have to worry about wiping the inside of the tail.(anything to save time) .....L

I work as a Community Nurse and I am an RN with my own Business. It's called "TLC Private Home Care And Nursing". Well, as I am ready for bed after Night Duty, I just thought I would let you all know how "Roy" got on after his op. He is coming along really well and is adjusting to the new way of life, and for a man in his 70`s this takes a bit of getting used to - not just for him but for his wife as well. It has taken a lot of sitting down and explaining all the pros and cons of his procedure but at last we seem to be on a winning streak with both Roy and Valerie.

Like most people who have this problem first up, it is rather frightening and the GP`s don't explain much so it left up to the RN`s.

I had explained with drawings and all to both Roy and Valerie that the bag must never become full or it will pop its seal and oh boy, can that make a mess! But being the new couple with this to deal with it went straight over their heads so we kept having messes. So back to the drawing board for me to try to find another way of explaining this so even my 5 year old granddaughter could understand. This is how I explained it (not very medical, but it worked).

"If you, Roy, want to pass wind (that is bodily gases normally coming out of your rear end) now you have your bag you must understand that gas has to go some where and it goes into the bag. Like all gas that comes with a movement, the waste goes to the bottom of the bag and the gas rises to the top. So it is a smart move to not let the bag become anymore than 3/4 full because the gas will pop the seal. And please don`t do what you did before and try to tape it down with sticky tape.(Boy, did that cause some nasty skin problems on top of the other!)

The lesson here for all new patients is don't allow the pouch or bag to become any fuller than 3/4 tops or you are going to have problems with seals popping and a clean up job to do!

Just remember: Hot air/gas ALWAYS rises!!!!!!!!!
I have attached a photo to this so patients and friends can see they are not alone and there are Nurses out here that deal with this all the time and really do care very deeply.


I am 39 years old,and a female ileostomate for 18 years. I am also a Registered Nurse. I have 14+ tips for ileostomates, but as I have a professional license I can only give advice as an ileostomate. I will only do it via email. You may email me at Make subject "ostomy", and I will send you my tips and hints. .....Jacy

To avoid splashing, I throw a wad of toilet paper in front of bowl, right where \\$%it will land. In 14 years I have never had a splash. (I never could work out why the toilet paper in the bowl was necessary until I visited the US - your toilets are designed differently to ours in Australia and this tip definitely worked for me whilst there! - Shaz). .....Bruce

For travel to outdoor concerts where the toilets are often portables with no water, I take a 250cc self-closing topped pericare bottle full of water with a drop of detergent. It works well to clean out the end of a drainable pouch. Care must be taken not to slosh the water up toward the seal.
Not every supplier carriers them. Any top closing plastic squeezable bottle, even a recycled mustard dispenser will do. .....Carolynn

Zip-loc Bags, Zip-loc Bags! I find them to be an ileostomates best friend. I've had my ileostomy for 7 years. I was panicked the first time I went into a public restroom. How do you squatt w/out back splash? Also, I'm a petite ladie and I use child size pouches that wouldn't reach the toilet. My mom came up with the idea of freezer bags. Jst empty into a freezer bag (they're really strong) seal, wrap in paper towel, dispose, and go. I have found this extremely helpful on the ski slopes, when you have layers of ski clothes and ski boots which make it nearly impossible to sit on a toilet. Keep a supply in your bag (no pun intended, ha ha ha), they also come in handy if you need to change appliance when away from home. .....Debbi

Have you heard of the wonderful "Osto-Ez-Vent", the quick and easy air release? I just can't say enough good things about this item. You stick them on your bag, make a tiny hole in the middle of the vent and then snap it closed. Then when your bag fills up with gas or air you can step away from the area you're in, open the snap and that releases the air build-up in the bag. No more balloons on one side only. We order mine through the ARP catalog. Try it, you will be amazed.


Ileostomists are NORMAL people capable of almost anything that others can do. Maybe rugby or American football is pushing it ( I know of an American Footballer (Rolf Benirschke) who played three seasons for the San Diego Chargers with his ileostomy and Chris Gedney who plays for the Arizona Cardinals has a j pouch. Rolf, unfortunately, now has Hepatitis C to contend with - acquired from one of his numerous blood transfusions - Shaz)- but try anything you fancy in life.

I have run marathons, still [at 65] go mountaineering in the Alps etc., cycling and have been an active Professor, having travelled and lived in numerous countries.

My tip for active types - I use Hollister one piece bags with Dansac washers [much better than Karaya]- is to find underpants that fit snugly and roll up your bag so that it is completely inside your underwear. Obviously, empty it before it gets in the way. Perhaps the 'sideways' on mode might work - I'm going to try it!


Illeostomy: For red, raw weeping skin under the tape (below stoma area) I use a hair dryer on low (cool) setting to help dry up the skin area. I then apply caladryl (calamine lotion) (I have also used Milk of Magnesia in the red area). I apply with a cotton ball & turn on hair dryer again on low to make sure area is completely dry. I then apply my new 2 piece appliance.

Urostomy: To try to extend the appliance(s) life for an additional day I picture frame illeostomy & urostomy with water proof tape.


One of the best tips I ever had in regards to skin irritations was to apply Maalox or Mylanta to the irritated skin. Drain the watery bit off the top of the bottle and dab the Maalox on to the sore skin. Not only does it help heal the skin but it soothes it no end. Don't worry, the wafer should still stick. A tried but true remedy. If only the Maalox people knew what we used their product for!


To empty your bag without a mess, sit on toilet and move as far back as you can and the bag will go between your legs and empty. I use toilet paper to clean it and then I wipe with baby wipes to keep the bag fresh. Also to dispose of a used bag use nappy sacks - they have a lovely scent all of the time.


Okay, okay, am I the only one with a hairy tummy around here????

I used to suffer from terribly raw & weepy skin, and have found the solution:

- I ensure that I clean all of the adhesive off with a Hollister adhesive removal wipe.
- Then (and here's the secret)I DRY shave with a 3-bladed razor. The area is small enough that there is no irritation, 3 blades mean only one pass to get rid of the hair.

I found wet shaving was taking off the top layer of skin, which would then get infected. Dry shaving doesn't do this.

That's it, usual other preps (karaya powder, skin barrier etc).


For a 'clean' feeling after emptying your pouch, obtain some 60ml syringes from your local pharmacy (usually a small fee) Fill the syringe with water and insert into the neck of the pouch. Empty the water into the pouch and have a good rinse around. Drain the water away and dry the neck by wrapping some tissue around a finger.

....Chris Terry

If you want to sleep all through the night (on your belly if you feel like): I use a 2-piece appliance with a very large (approx. 2 litres, some 4 pints) "Ileo-night-drainage". (By Coloplast, ask your supplier, they are only on market for about 6 months here in Austria) They look awfull and they are so long that you drag them behind you (cats love it!) but they work very well. (only one small accident in six months!!) During the day I use children-size bags, very decent, small enough to hide it under a decent bikini!


If you sometimes have trouble emptying your bag, try putting about a teaspoon of baby oil inside. This stops any gloop 'sticking' to the inside of your bag.

.... Darren

I have had my stoma for 12 months now. In the early days I had a lot of trouble with soreness. This was eased by using a product called "cavilon" (made by 3m). The user sprays a small amount around the stoma which acts like a second skin to protect the sore area, any residue comes away the next time you change your bag.

.... Debbie

Ok, I have very sensitive skin, prone to rashes. I found that if I wore my swimmers for too long, I got a huge rash under the bag. So I now wear some bikini bottoms under my togs, under the bag, and i can wear my togs for a whole day without getting hot and bothered or rashy!

.... Kate

For Emptying, I find it easier to kneel at the bowl & empty down the side of the pan or when ya in a Public WC to flush as you empty it prevents splash back.

.... Al

Wearing sundresses, shorts, skirts or anything kinda form fitting...take a pair of control top panty hose,cut the legs off and you can't even tell.(minimizes self-conciousness).

To avoid sticky skin in the warm summer months buy a small amount of fabric, trace your bag and make bag covers. Very easy and takes very little time. Pick fun fabrics! We all know our ostomies have personalities of their own. ;)

Guys, with today's fashions your waist line conflicts with your bag...wear those B.V.D's that are like bike shorts.

.... Jeana

I have found that a couple of tablespoons of Pepto Bismol is a great odour neutralizer when taken internally 2 hrs before an event where you might forsee a problem.

Gas: Can be relieved by Flagyl(anti-biotic)-2X 250 mg tablets.This is for a case of severe bag rupturing gas attacks caused no doubt by a gas emitting bacterial decomposition.Check with your DR. re adverse effects +DO NOT TAKE IF INGESTING ALCOHOL!!

(I have found that) Hollister skin care products provide excellent protection from irritation around the stoma.

.... Sean O`Donnell

To help avoid the dreaded "backsplash" when using a public restroom try sitting all the way back on the toilet seat and put the bag down between your legs as far as it will go, then empty.

.... Joel

I'm new at this (3 weeks) but I've already found Q-Tips to be a great help. After you've emptied out your pouch and put the clip back on, instead of getting your hands gucky, use a Q-Tip to clean out the remainging guck. It will get it ALL out! It's less messy and you just keep them with you when you're not at home!

.... Annie

I am a physician who has had an ileostomy for over 25 years due to Crohn's disease. During that time I completed a residency ininternal medicine and a two year fellowship in medical oncology (cancer) and hematology(blood diseases). I practiced for 20 years before complications of short bowel syndrome with malabsorption necessitated my retirement from active practice. I continue to write and lecture about medical ethics, and to teach on a volunteer basis interns, residents, fellows, and medical students.
My message to my fellow ileostomates is to be strong. If I have been able to pursue a relatively normal life, so can you!
Please understand my need to be anonymous.
With warm regards and much encouragement, XXX

Would you believe it helps to use a hairdryer! Post flushing out your appliance on a non change day with warm water, use a hair dryer to blow out excess moisture. Gently gently - and you'll find it helps maintain healthy skin and prevent sore patches developing.

I have also found Betadene a useful skinprep around the stoma and when the skin really needs toughening up - try Friars Balsam!


I wear a 2 piece pouce, so i turn the bag side ways so that the bag goes straight across my stomach. That way, if the bag fills up it just looks like my stomach instead of a big lump on just one side. You can never notice it anyway because I always wear jeans. (And I always thought I was the only one who wore my bag across my stomach lol (and I wear a one-piece!) That way it can all be contained within my underwear and I find it a lot more comfortable than having it hanging down one side - Shaz).


After removing the old wafer and pouch and showering I use a disposable paper Dixie cup to hold under the stoma to catch any fluid while in the process of applying new wafer. Then discard cup.

....J. Anderson

I have a very high placement for my stoma and it's flush to the skin so I've had to deal with high liquid output and many accidental leaks. I found that with the combo of Karya Rings, Skin-Prep, Colo-Plast Ring and Belt I can reduce the mishaps.

I also carry with individual alcohol wipes, baby wipes and zip-lock for cleansing and changing while out. In order to make changing easier and reduce irritation to the stoma I change my appliance early in the morning, when it's not so active. Also using a baking soda paste on the red area brings down the itching and redness around the stoma.


Every time I empty bag I rinse with warm water. This allows me to change bag every 5 days. (Editor's note: Please be careful if you choose to rinse your bag - keep the water away from the wafer as it can erode the wafer a lot quicker than normal in a lot of ostomates. Also make sure the water is not too warm so as to damage the bag.)


If you have an ileostomy , and you take one with you in case of accidents when you are out,put an old baby washcloth and your new appliance in a ziplock bag and when you go to THE bathroom out, clean your skin well with the baby washcloth then put it in the ziplock bag along with your old appliance and zip it up and discard it , you'll feel better throwing it away like that, I even use ziplock bags at every discard ,they are very inexpensive.


An inexpensive way to reduce odor is to add a few drops of "mouthwash" in your bag....especially before you go away from home. It works very well!

....Sandra Nucelli

For the longest time I wouldn't use the restroom while I had company or if I was at someone's house. Someone told me to put two asprin in my bag every time I empty it. It works great and it is less expensive that some of the other things that are on the market for controlling odor. ( Please, be aware that a lot of ostomates report that aspirin can hurt your stoma - Shaz)


If you use Karaya Seals:

I have had an illeostomy for 25 years. I change every other day-remove bag - shower - dry really well - wipe with Skin-Prep protective wipes (comes in a one use packet - made by Smith Nephew). This Skin-Prep will help the karaya seal to stick better - it will sting a bit if you have some irritation. Make sure the Skin-Prep is dry before applying bag.

....Judy Marshall

I keep a tube of sween creme around for times when my skin gets a little red. I find it helps soothe the skin and does not hinder the flange from sticking to the skin. l also find a small bottle of Nystatin powder works for any severe redness from a leak . Doctors here in the States seem to readily prescribe this powder, I guess because they figure an ostomate knows more than they do.?????? lol

Changing your appliance in the morning BEFORE you have been eating or drinking anything will minimize accidents from happening.

Changing your appliance in the tub ( with no water) keeps messes to a minimum. If you leak just rinse out the tub.

Wiping your skin with toilet tissue ensures that your Skin is dry enough to apply your appliance.

My most important hint. Be thankful that you're alive with ony this small little bag to contend with. There are SO many less fortunate people out there with FAR greater problems to cope with...:-)

....Jo Anna

How do you get the flat tape surface of an appliance to fit the curve of your abdomen without wrinkles?

What I do is make cuts at the 12,3,6,and 9 o'clock positions about 3/4 way from the edge in towards the center. That way when it is put on, the cuts allow the tape to overlap itself rather than form a wrinkle. It's flat, your skin is flat and that is one less worry.


I've found on the day I change the appliance that I remove it while in the shower, the warm water helps it come off easier and then wash the area well with a soft washcloth. I let the warm water wash over the? stoma (softly). It feels real good and has helped to keep my skin healthy. I also made pouch covers that?help absorb sweat and any leaks. I change more frequently when the weather is warm.? I named my stoma: She-it.


This was recommended to me by the community Stomal Therapist whilst I was still recovering, when I was having problems learning to clean the peristomal area.? I still use this every 6 to 8 weeks and find that the adhesion of the wafer is greatly improved for a number of weeks following.

After a while, the adhesives from the wafer may build up to the point that the adhesion of a new wafer is adversely affected, from reduction of wear time to outright failure (this has happened to me).? To remove this adhesive buildup, bath the peristomal area in a water/vinegar mixture.? Recommended strength is 20:1, though I have used stronger mixtures *with caution*.? Ensure that after this cleansing, it is rinsed thoroughly, to restore the neutral Ph value required (I also use a skin cleanser/lotion supplied by one of the Appliance manufacturers).


For itching under the wafer, I suggest that you try using a? Micropore based flange.? It will not stay on for as long but it will let the air circulate and it worked for me with moisture related itching.? Also, go to your chemist and purchase either Betadine (Iodine antiseptic solution) OR better still Mercurochrome (spelling) and put this on it before the bag goes on. Both of these have drying and antseptic affects on the skin.? The Merc. has more healing properties if skin is weeping or raw.


Hints and Tips - Page 2

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