Changing an ostomy pouch is a regular routine for those who have undergone a surgical procedure to create a stoma in the body. It’s best if you learn how to change an ostomy pouch or bag yourself, because it gives you greater independence and a sense of accomplishment. Here is how to do it properly and hygienically.
- Have clean hands. When changing an ostomy pouch, hygiene is very important. Wash your hands thoroughly using clean water and mild soap. Then, put on clean gloves. This makes you protect your hands from being soiled and at the same time, protect your stoma from being infected.
- Prepare your equipment. Your ostomy equipment needs to be handled by clean hands to prevent spreading germs. After washing your hands and wearing the gloves, assemble your equipment and place them somewhere near you. These are the following: new ostomy pouch which is the same type as the one being changed, measuring guide, cleansing materials like lukewarm water, soft towels and tissues, adhesive solvent and skin protectants, tape and scissors, container for the old pouch and soiled materials, and a waterproof mat.
- Position the waterproof mat. Place the waterproof mat over the area where you’ll change the ostomy pouch. If you’re changing on a bed, remove the beddings first to prevent it from being soiled.
- Remove the ostomy pouch. Remove the old pouch by gently pulling your skin away from the adhesive barrier. If it’s hard to pull off, use the adhesive solvent. If the pouch has a clamp, remove it and use it again for the new pouch. Throw away the old pouch into the container for trash.
- Check your stoma. Check whether your stoma is healthy. It must be smooth and beefy red. Swelling and light bleeding is normal when you’ve recently been operated. Alert your doctor if the swelling remains for more than 10 days; and also if the stoma looks unhealthy, has wounds or feels painful.
- Clean your stoma. Wipe the stoma using the soft towels and lukewarm water. If you prefer, you may use non-irritating cleansing wipes. Make sure that the cleansing materials are clean and free from harsh ingredients. Throw away the soiled towels and wipes.
- Prepare your skin. Cover your stoma with a soft and clean tissue. This is to keep your skin clean. Then, dry the surrounding skin using gentle pats. Never rub your skin to avoid hurting yourself. Make sure that the skin is completely dry. A new pouch will not adhere to wet skin. Apply a small amount of skin protectant if desired; however take note that some skin protectants may prevent the barrier from adhering to the skin.
- Prepare the new ostomy pouch. Cut an opening in the pouch according to the measuring guide. The opening of the pouch must be slightly bigger than the stoma. Ask for an ostomy template from your nurse to make preparing the ostomy pouch easier.
- Apply the clean ostomy pouch. After removing the tissue that’s covering the stoma, you may position the new pouch. Place the barrier adhesive opening securely upon the stoma and avoid creating wrinkles on the material. Then, use tape to further secure the adhesive barrier.
- Wash your hands. When you’re done, dispose your gloves and wash your hands thoroughly once again.
Changing an ostomy pouch may be tedious, but with regular practice, it will become a comfortable habit. Always observe hygienic measures and proper handling and application of materials. Don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of the doctors and nurses if you need it.