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A beach bag with speech bubbles showing ostomy-friendly swimwear, flange extenders, drinks and snacks, sunscreen, and a spare ostomy bag.

Beach Bag Ready

As winter turns to spring and thoughts turn from spring to summer, many of us will start to think of vacations. If you are new to life with an ostomy, the thought of going on vacation with an ostomy can be daunting.

No need to worry, I have previously covered some general tips to help you prepare for your vacation and getting there by plane or automobile, at any time of year, and when staying with family and friends too.

Today I am focussing on hitting the beach.

How to be "beach bag" ready

Selecting swimwear

  • Most importantly, select something you feel comfortable in.
  • Many people are comfortable wearing standard swimwear with the ostomy bag on show and this is 100% OK.
  • If you prefer, as I do, to hide my bags, there are options for this too.
  • For women, you can select an all-in-one swimsuit (many are available in a stretch material with built-in support).
  • Another option is wearing a tankini which has a vest-style top and often short-style bottoms.
  • I choose a standard bikini with high-waisted bottoms. This works well even with my two ostomies. I find the company Fantasie offers the best selection.
  • For males, swim shorts are the best option, including designs with higher waists.

Carrying spare supplies

  • It is important to keep your supplies cool. If you head off to a hot destination and especially on the beach, the heat can affect the adhesion of your ostomy bag.
  • I use a mini cool pouch designed for carrying insulin for diabetics which is insulated and has a small cool pouch that you can freeze and put in a pocket inside – this works for enough for one spare change (available on Amazon).
  • If I am at the beach for the whole day, I use an insulated sandwich/lunch bag in the same way but it gives me extra capacity to have more than one change for my two ostomy bags.

Restrooms

  • When you arrive at the beach, check where the nearest restroom is.
  • I always try to sit relatively near to the restroom, so I can quickly use the restroom if needed.

Swimming

  • Empty your bag before you go swimming.
  • I would suggest also adding flange extenders around the edge of your bag to make it more secure.
  • If I swim for just a short period of time, I usually just let my bag dry in the sunshine and if anything, it actually improves the adhesion and is good to last until I am back at the end of the day to shower.
  • If I swim or I am in the water for a longer period of time (45 minutes plus), I usually choose to change my bag afterward. Many people don’t do this but for me, after this time, I feel the adhesion in my bag weakens.

Sunscreen

  • As for anyone visiting the beach, it is important to wear sunscreen.
  • Firstly, if you have your bag is on show, ensure you don’t miss any bits of skin near your bag. It is easy to do.
  • Equally, ensure the sunscreen doesn’t go right beside the bag itself as it can affect the bag's adhesion.

Hydration

  • Again, like for everyone, hydration is important when out in the sun and in hot temperatures, it is particularly important for those with a urostomy – you don’t want to spoil your holiday by feeling ill after a day at the beach.
  • I find having a salty snack such as chips or pretzels, helps to ensure I maintain salt levels even if I am sweating a little in the heat. This ensures my body still has enough salt to absorb the liquids which I consume.
  • Don’t drink just water as this can actually flush out essential minerals and dehydrate you more. Try some fruit juice as an occasional alternative.
  • If you start to feel dehydrated, a Gatorade can help to get you back on track.

Ready for the beach with an ostomy!

Now that you are beach bag ready, all that is left to do is to hit the beach! Have fun!

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