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How do I Change a Colostomy Bag?

Changing a colostomy bag can seem daunting, but with the right guidance, it's a manageable process. Our step-by-step guide, complete with images, ensures you can confidently perform the change with hygiene and comfort in mind. Ready to master this essential skill? See how a careful approach can simplify your routine. What will you discover about your own capabilities as you learn?
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

The steps you may take to change a colostomy bag may depend on the type of bag you are using. In general, however, you will usually have to remove the old colostomy bag and clean the area that surrounds the stoma before attaching a clean bag. For example, if you are using the stick-on type of colostomy bag, a very common type, you may first size the wax required for use to fit the stoma. Next, you may remove the adhesive backing and stick the colostomy bag onto the skin surrounding the stoma. Finally, you may add a little stoma paste to make the seal more reliable and finish up by clamping the end of the colostomy bag to keep fecal matter inside the bag.

The exact steps you will take to change a colostomy bag may depend on the type of bag you are using. In most cases, however, you will have to clean the area around the stoma of fecal matter. You may use a clean rag, soap, and warm water to clean this area. Cleaning this area is important not only for sanitary reasons but also to ensure the adhesive will stick to the skin properly. Once you’ve cleaned the area, you will usually have to dry it completely before beginning the steps to apply a new colostomy bag.

The exact steps needed to change a colostomy bag may depend on the type of bag you are using.
The exact steps needed to change a colostomy bag may depend on the type of bag you are using.

To apply a stick-on type of colostomy bag, you will usually have to make sure the wax that allows the bag to adhere to the skin fits around your stoma. You may have to trim the wax a bit to ensure a good fit. You may then press the opening that has the wax against your dry skin and apply stoma paste around it for an effective seal. When you change a colostomy bag, the last step is usually clamping the bottom of the colostomy bag shut.

An infected abdominal stoma may cause a patient to experience nausea and vomiting.
An infected abdominal stoma may cause a patient to experience nausea and vomiting.

Many people who use stick-on colostomy bags shave the area around their stomas before they apply new bags. This may not only help to keep this area clean, but also may prevent you from pulling out longer hairs when the time comes to change a colostomy bag again. Unfortunately, however, this usually won’t prevent all hair pulling, as new hair may grow between colostomy bag changes.

The strap-on type of colostomy bag works a little differently from the stick-on type. It doesn’t require you to cut or handle any adhesive. This type of bag is positioned over the stoma, and a special belt holds it in place. As with changing the stick-on type, you will usually begin this type of change by cleaning the area and shaving the skin to prevent hair pulling. After this initial preparation, you can simply strap on the new bag.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a TheHealthBoard writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a TheHealthBoard writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...

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    • The exact steps needed to change a colostomy bag may depend on the type of bag you are using.
      By: Pavle
      The exact steps needed to change a colostomy bag may depend on the type of bag you are using.
    • An infected abdominal stoma may cause a patient to experience nausea and vomiting.
      By: Piotr Marcinski
      An infected abdominal stoma may cause a patient to experience nausea and vomiting.