How to change a colostomy bag

Written by kendra dahlstrom
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Changing a colostomy bag is much easier than it sounds. Although the job is not glamorous, anyone can do it. You can either perform this task yourself or seek the help of a partner. There are two types of colostomy bags: the strap-on type, and the stick-on type. Typically, the stick-on type is more common and easier to change. It is also more comfortable to wear. This article explains the correct procedure to use to change a stick-on colostomy bag.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Wash cloth
  • Soap
  • Razor
  • Stick-on colostomy bag
  • Scissors
  • Colostomy clamp
  • Stoma paste

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  1. 1

    Wash around the stoma with a warm soapy rag. This is mainly for sanitary reasons, but it also helps the colostomy bag stick better. In order to adhere properly, the area around the stoma must be clean and dry.

  2. 2

    Shave about 2 inches around the stoma. Again, this is for sanitary reasons. The shaving also, however, relieves some of the discomfort caused by removing the sticky wax bag. Although you will still feel some hair pulling, it is much less painful than unshaven hair.

  3. 3

    Look in the box that contains the new colostomy bag for cardboard holes. You will have to size the wax to fit your particular stoma. This is done with the sizing holes provided in the box. Choose one that fits snuggly around your stoma.

  4. 4

    Cut the excess wax away from the end of the colostomy bag. Use the cardboard hole as a guide. You can just use your scissors for this step.

  5. 5

    Remove the adhesive backing and stick the wax colostomy bag around the stoma. You will use a very thin line of stoma paste around the outside edge of the wax. This serves as a seal for moisture. You don't want to use too much, however, because it prevents wax adhesion. Then, clamp the opening at the bottom of the colostomy bag. Colostomy bags have a hole at the bottom for easier emptying and cleaning. Of course, this hole must be clamped so its contents do not leak.

Tips and warnings

  • Itchy skin under the wax on the stoma is common. The best way to deal with this is to apply pressure to the area. Although this will not completely relieve the itch, it does help.
  • Don't change your colostomy bag right after a meal. Your belly will not be allowed to retract back to normal size if you stick a colostomy bag on it when it is expanded. This can be uncomfortable.

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