Living with a stoma, a surgically created opening that can replace bowel, urinary or breathing functions following the removal of vital organs, requires numerous lifestyle adjustments. As such, patients might be reticent to shower following urostomy or colostomy surgeries or a tracheotomy. Even so, regular showering is vital to personal hygiene. It also is a mental way to return to normalcy after surgery. Unless a doctor says otherwise, people with stomas can begin showering again whenever they are physically able. Stoma patients, particularly tracheotomy patients, should take a few precautions when showering.
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Things you need
- Stoma shield, bib or dry cloth
- Ostomy belt
- Soft washcloth
- Mild soap
Shield a tracheal stoma either with a cover available from your health care provider, a dry cloth or a child's bib, fastened with the plastic side facing outward. This allows you to breathe while preventing water from entering the stoma and going directly to the lungs. Stomas from colostomy and urostomy procedures do not need shielding during a shower.
Keep the shower spray or hose at chest level with a tracheal stoma to limit its exposure to water. Shower to your usual preference with urostomy or colostomy stomas.
With urostomy and colostomy stomas, determine whether you want to shower with or without your waste collection pouch. Both are acceptable, but you might feel more comfortable showering with your pouch in the initial weeks following your surgery as you get used to the stoma's function. When you're ready to shower without your pouch, you might want to procure an absorbent ostomy belt to wear after showering to prevent waste from escaping while the pouch is off.
Clean your urostomy or colostomy stoma with warm water and a soft washcloth while showering. Gently apply pressure if the stoma begins to bleed, which is normal due to its small blood vessels. Because of the risk of getting water or soap in the lungs, do not clean the tracheal stoma while in the shower.
Use a mild soap that leaves little residue while showering. Moisturising or oily soaps might linger on the skin and interfere with the waste collection pouch's adhesiveness. Heavily perfumed soaps and bath products might irritate the skin around the stoma.
Pat the stoma gently with a towel to dry after showering. Do not apply any talcum powder or cleaning wipes to the stoma, as they too might interfere with the waste collection pouch's adhesive capabilities.
Tips and warnings
- Monitor your waste patterns with urostomy or colostomy stomas. You eventually might be able to time your showers when you are least likely to produce waste.
- Despite the need to protect a tracheal stoma, warm showers also are beneficial, as they are a source of extra humidity.
- Contact your doctor if your stoma bleeds excessively or remains irritated for a prolonged period of time.
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