What is ostomy care?

Jump To

Ostomy care: Overview

When a part of your intestine doesn't work as it should, a doctor can do surgery to make an opening in your belly and bring a part of your intestine to the surface of your skin. This opening is called an ostomy. There are two types. A colostomy is an ostomy of the colon. An ileostomy is an ostomy of the small intestine.

With an ostomy, waste no longer leaves your body from your anus. It leaves your body through the part of your intestine at the ostomy opening. This part of the intestine is called the stoma.

There's no muscle around the stoma. So you can't control when waste or gas leaves your body. Now your waste automatically goes from the stoma into a plastic bag (pouch) around the stoma. This pouch will block the smell of the waste. It can't be seen when you are wearing clothes.

You can learn to take care of your ostomy. Good care can make living with a stoma easier. It can help keep a good seal between the skin and the pouch. This can prevent your skin from getting irritated.

How do you care for your ostomy?

Caring for your ostomy is an important part of maintaining your quality of life. You will need to empty your pouch as needed and replace your pouching system as needed. You will also need to care for your skin and stoma and watch for skin irritation.

How to empty your closed ostomy pouch

A closed ostomy pouch is disposed of and replaced with a new one as needed. A closed pouch cannot be drained.

It is best to throw the pouch away when it is one-third to one-half full. This prevents the pouch from getting too full and heavy and pulling off.

Here are the basic steps.

  1. Unsnap the pouch from the barrier.
  2. Throw the pouch away.

    Do not flush the pouch down the toilet. Putting it in a zippered plastic bag reduces odor.

  3. Attach a new pouch.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.