Stoma Care

After small or large bowel surgery, your surgeon may inform you that you may need a stoma bag to drain waste from your body.  If the stoma is for the small bowel (ileum), it is called an ileostomy and if it is for the large bowel (colon), it is called a colostomy.  This stoma can be temporary or permanent.   


An ileostomy is created out of the ileum and requires some particular but simple attention to keep you comfortable and healthy.  Because the ileum contains digestive enzymes and acids that may cause skin irritation, extra care is needed with an ileostomy to keep waste materials from coming into contact with the skin on your abdomen.


A colostomy is created out of the end of the large intestine to divert waste from your digestive system.  The location of your colostomy is determined by the location of the damaged portion of your colon or to divert stool from a wound in the perianal area. The pictures below demonstrate the different areas in which a colostomy can be placed. 

Ascending Colon
Sigmoid Colon

What to Expect

During the first few months after stoma surgery, it is important to recognize that you will be undergoing a major period of adjustment. Having a stoma means you must adapt to a new ‘normal’ way of life.  Whether you have had a colostomy or ileostomy, you will need to learn how to manage the passage of body waste through your stoma, as well as how to care for the skin around your stoma.

For the first 6-8 weeks, your stoma will most likely shrink in size. Regular measuring of your stoma ensures you are wearing the correct pouching system size, increases your confidence, and reduces discomfort.

Over time, you will feel much more comfortable with your new lifestyle as stoma management becomes just another part of your daily routine. During this initial adjustment period, however, keep in close contact with your stoma care nurse. The answers to any problems or concerns are usually just a phone call away.

Cleaning and Sticking your Stoma on

Having a peri-stomal (around the stoma) skin complication is one of the most common reasons people living with a stoma seek medical attention. Urine and faeces can be irritating to the skin.

Proper fit of the baseplate around the stoma is important to prevent peri-stomal skin problems:

  • For one-piece systems, a thin, flexible adhesive will protect your skin and allow for more frequent pouching system changes.
  • For two-piece systems, special mouldable baseplates are designed to hug the contours of your stoma and eliminate gaps provide a snug fit that may help minimise peri-stomal skin problems.

Click to view Convatec video How to use Adhesive Removal Wipes

How to Use your Stoma Pouches

All stomas should be shiny, wet and red in colour, similar to the inside of your mouth. A stoma does not have nerve endings; therefore, it does not transmit pain or other sensations. However, it has many blood vessels and may bleed slightly if irritated or rubbed. This is normal, but if bleeding is prolonged or if you have bloody discharge from your stoma, be sure to contact your healthcare professional.  Selecting the best pouching system depends on your stoma type and the particular physical characteristics of your stoma.

Click to view Convatec video How to use Esteem Pouches

How to Assess the Skin around your Stoma

Make note of how your peri-stomal skin looks when it’s healthy.  Peri-stomal skin should look similar to the skin on the other side of your abdomen: smooth and not irritated. Once you know what healthy skin looks like, you can watch for signs of skin irritation

Health Peri-stomal skin
Skin irritation around Stoma site

Learn about stoma care from your Nurse or Doctor

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Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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