Learning to care for your ostomy pouch takes patience and practice. Making time to do a bit of research and being attentive when the hospital’s ostomy nurse-educator works with you will bolster you on to mastery.
Make sure to speak up and ask questions to avoid any misinformation. Taking excellent care of your ostomy will help you stay healthy and prevent infection.
Here are some facts to help dispel common myths about ostomy management.
Myth: Ostomy Changes Are Done by Your In-Home Health Provider
Truth: The hospital’s wound-ostomy nurse will provide you with the education you need to care for and change the pouch yourself. They will explain the differences in ostomy supplies and how they are used. They will also clarify which appliance suits the type of surgery you had and the lifestyle you lead.
A home health nurse will check your ostomy to make sure it is clear of infection and offer education on its care if needed but the responsibility is on the patient or their caregiver to change it regularly.
Myth: Stoma Paste Works Like Glue
Truth: Stoma paste does not glue the appliance to the body. It is a caulking agent used in small amounts to fill in the tiny areas where a leak may occur. Slathering this on would be detrimental, so use it sparingly.
Myth: The Ostomy Pouch Will Smell
Truth: Cleaning the spout each time you drain the pouch will prevent the ostomy from developing an odor. Ostomy pouches are made to be both moisture and odor proof.
If you are still concerned, there are lubricating/deodorizing gels that can be placed in the pouch and will get rid of any lingering odors.
Myth: An Ostomy Pouch Only Needs to Be Changed When Leaking
Truth: The FDA does not approve any appliance to be worn more than seven days. Most should be changed twice a week though long-term patients are able to extend their wear time up to five days. This will prevent skin damage.
Generally, the best time to change your pouch is in the morning when the intestine is the least active.
Myth: Baby Wipes Will Safely Clean the Stoma
Truth: You should never use baby wipes to clean the skin around your stoma. The best way to keep it clean is with a washcloth and warm water. Soap is unnecessary but if you prefer to use it, be sure to use a mild soap without perfumes to avoid irritating the skin.
Reach out to your doctor if you have any questions issues with the ostomy. Keeping up with your ostomy care is vital to maintaining an excellent quality of life.