What You Need for Stoma Care and Management

Updated on November 18, 2017
AloBeDa profile image

Adjusting to a colostomy is tough. For me, it was like a horrible dream. But with a positive mindset, I soon adjusted to my new life.

Stoma management is very important when it comes to caring for your condition. Without proper care and strict adherence to the advice given by your stoma nurse, you will be prone to infections or worse still, find yourself right back in the hospital.

After the effects of anesthesia finally wear off, you'll soon discover there is a pouch attached to your abdomen.

This is an ostomy bag. This bag (colostomy pouch) is undoubtedly the most important of all the supplies you require because, without it, your waste collection is impossible.

If you already knew beforehand that you'll be having this surgical procedure, it won't really come as a surprise because you and your doctor will have had extensive discussions about it. You already knew what to expect.

However, as the doctors carefully explain to you about your current condition, what they have attached to your abdomen, and why, the realisation starts to sink in. Not long after, there is acceptance, thus the mental healing process begins slowly.

Some Colostomy Supplies
Some Colostomy Supplies

Introducing Patients to Colostomy Supplies They'll Need

Once all the preliminaries and explanations about the concluded surgery are taken care of, you'll be shown all the necessary ostomy supplies you will need and patiently tutored by the ET nurses on when and how to use each and every one of them.

While this goes on, you will be given gentle counseling, which you will find helpful in no small measure.

Colostomy Supplies Required for Stoma Care

Your first batch of colostomy supplies will be given to you at the hospital free (the ones I got lasted a few weeks). They come neatly packed into pretty cases that come in different sizes, each with distinct compartments.

The large ones you will use at home or when on holidays while the small ones are great for the office or when you go out on the town.

These cases are nice and handy and ensure all your colostomy supplies are kept clean, organised, and easy to carry around.

Colostomy Bags

Colostomy bags are by far the most important of all your ostomy supplies: they have two variants, the 1-piece, and 2-piece systems.

1-piece system — These types of bags consist of a collection bag with an adhesive plate which adheres to the abdomen and fits firmly around the stoma.

2-piece systems — They consist of the adhesive faceplate and the faeces collection bag. They are both separate entities, but the two halves have to be securely fitted together by means of a clipping or sealing system.

The adhesive plate stays fixed on the stomach and doesn't have to be removed from the abdomen whenever a filled colostomy bag has to be changed.

Closed-end pouch/bag — One type of colostomy bag is the closed-end bag, also referred to as disposable colostomy bags. They are most commonly used by patients who have regular waste elimination patterns.

Many patients who adhere to a simple colostomy diet can use closed-end pouches successfully because they can fairly well predict the pattern and timing of their bowel movements.

Closed end colostomy bags are good for one-time use and once they are half- filled need to be removed and disposed of properly.

Open-end colostomy bags — The open-end bag can be emptied whilst attached to the abdomen. These open end pouches (with the opening at the bottom end) have an effective closing and sealing device. They are also referred to as drainable bags.

Traditionally, small clamps or tail clips were used as a closing device but now with advanced technology they can be folded over a few times and sealed with Velcro. Open end colostomy bags can be used more than once (reusable appliances), and all a patient need to do is open it up, empty the faeces into a toilet, and seal it back up again.

Both the 1-piece and 2-piece stoma bags can come as close-ended or drainable.

Other Essential Supplies

The stoma needs to be cared for by way of ensuring the whole area is kept very clean at ALL times because if care is not taken, it is very easy to get an infection in this area. Without proper care, a patient may need to go back into the hospital for infection related illnesses.

Other colostomy supplies for effective care and management include:


Gloves are not very easy to use and many colostomy patients find it makes their fingers clumsy when fixing or changing a colostomy bag. Most just use their bare hands, which is fine, as long as the hands are washed thoroughly pre-change.

They are probably only required for complicated colostomies that may need extra careful handling to ward against other infections. This is particularly true when it comes to caring for young children and babies with a colostomy.

For instance, if a young patient gets smallpox or similar childhood ailments, its carer wants to ensure that they have gloves on whilst cleaning the stoma.

Special wash cloths

Clean wash cloths that come with ordered supplies must be at hand always. Never use paper napkins or toilet paper to clean around the stoma as these may leave tiny pieces/particles of tissue will stick onto the stoma.

If these particles accumulate around and on the stoma, it will cause irritation, or worse, a bad infection.

Very mild soap wash

A very mild non-perfumed soap or wash is required to clean a soiled stoma. If it is not cleaned regularly, a thin light 'cake' of waste will form around the stoma.

It is important to clean the stoma every day, even if it’s just once in the morning, with a mild soap. Ensure there are no irritants that may cause minor irritation.

Water used must be warm because cold water may cause a reaction whereby the stoma shrinks, albeit temporarily and if this happens, it becomes a bit difficult and clumsy to firmly fit the stoma into the faceplate hole.


Creams may or may not come with your first set of supplies but it's good to use it for soothing the ring around the stoma if it gets irritated. There are special and recommended colostomy creams available and only these types of creams must be used for your stoma care.

A small pair of stainless steel scissors

Supplies provided at the hospital come with a small pair of ostomy scissors with curved blades. You will need these to cut a ring in the colostomy pouch faceplate.

Because every patient has a different stoma diameter, some faceplates can be manually cut to size by the patient. It’s quite simple to do.

Faceplates have graded diameter measurements marked on them and once your stoma's diameter, you can cut to fit. Measurement charts come with supplies.

Deodorant sprays

Whilst changing a pouch or emptying the contents of your bag, the odour can be quite overwhelming for anyone around, and even you. This is why ostomy deodorant sprays are a must-have.

There are special sprays and deodorizing tablets that will come with your colostomy supplies and these will take care of the odour. Some are more effective than others and you will eventually know which works best for you. Some come in natural fragrances, with lemon being an especial favourite.

Colostomy supplies case and purse

A carry bag and purse is essential and good for storing all your colostomy products.

Some are even pretty enough to hold for all to see. Nobody will know they hold your supplies except you.

There are also small purses with clasps or zips that fit snugly into a woman's everyday handbag or into a man's briefcase.

Managing a Colostomy Is Not Complicated

Managing and caring for your colostomy may sound complicated but it is not and once you get the hang of things, it'll become almost child-play.

You will be happy to know that many colostomy patients quickly learn and adapt to their current situation.

As long as you have mastered the art of fixing or removing your colostomy bags, know the basics of stoma care, and ensure you are well equipped with the necessary supplies, you will successfully manage your stoma and live your life without fear, embarrassment, or much concern.

Important Tips on Stoma Management

  1. Never use non-stoma care products
  2. Only use products recommended for colostomy care
  3. Never use regular creams and body lotions around your stoma
  4. Keep products such as lanolin based creams away from the stoma
  5. Oil based creams will cause the colostomy bag to loosen from the abdomen and hamper the adherence of the faceplates to the stomach
  6. Never clean the stoma or its surroundings with alcohol or alcohol based products. Alchohol will dry up the skin around the stoma and badly irritate it
  7. Never use hot water on the stoma. Because it has no nerve endings, you won't feel the pain of scalding water
  8. Make sure your closed-pouch is only half-full before you change it for a new stoma bag
  9. A drainable bag must not be more than three-quarters full before you drain or empty it
  10. Never go out without at least three spare colostomy bags. You never want to forget this

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 Alobeda

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      • AloBeDa profile imageAUTHOR


        2 years ago from The Global Village

        I'm glad you found this helpful Gwen. Best wishes...


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