Tips on Bathing and Showering With a Stoma
Last updated: January 2023
After my radical cystectomy, I was unsure whether I should bathe or shower, with or without my urostomy bag. The truth is, you can do either once you have had the 'okay' from your doctor or stoma nurse — whatever you feel the most comfortable doing!
Please do ensure, however, that you do you get the 'okay' first!
The first few weeks with a bag
Initially, and until you feel more comfortable with your stoma and bag, you may choose to shower or bathe with your bag on. Personally, I find nothing more liberating than getting in the shower without my bag on. It gives me the opportunity to really cleanse the area around my stoma and gives my skin a nice airing. Nothing nicer, in my opinion than feeling that nice, clean, warm water hit my skin.
Staying safe and avoiding infection
Please note that for water sourced from wells or water that is from an unclean source, it is recommended to keep your bag on to avoid infection. I recommend using a non-perfumed, non-moisturizing shower gel.
Be prepared for your stoma to have a little pee while you're in the shower. This is perfectly normal and to be honest, there is little you can do to stop it. Showering in the morning before eating or drinking can help manage a lesser flow.
Drying myself off before getting out
I then dry myself off in the shower rather than outside. This is so if my little darling stoma does decide to have a pee as I am drying myself, I have the showerhead on hand to rinse off any urine.
Using a cloth to absorb leakage
I keep a small, freshly laundered face flannel on hand in the bathroom. After drying off, I pick up the face flannel, fold it a couple of times, and hold it over my stoma. This will absorb any leakage that might occur while you are preparing to put on your nice fresh bag. The cloth is also reusable after a hot or boil wash, so it saves on dry wipes and therefore saves on cost, and is environmentally a good thing to do!
5 tips for bathing without your bag
There are a few things to be mindful of if you're having a bath without your bag.
- Don't have the water too hot
- Don't use any heavily scented bubble baths or bath bombs
- Don't use anything with glitter as some well-known brands do contain a glittery solution, and you don't want that getting into your stoma
- Don't use any oily bubble baths as these will make your skin oily and greasy and may cause your bag not to adhere properly
- Don't use bath salts
- Finally, stay in as long as you like, relax and enjoy!
Be mindful that if you are bathing with your bag on and are in for a long time, it may cause your bag to loosen. So perhaps consider bathing when it's bag change day. Lastly, if you have decided to bathe/shower with your bag on, you may find that your bag remains wet or damp, even after a good patting down.
Tip for bathing with your bag
A helpful tip for this is to use your hairdryer on a low heat setting and dry for a minute or two. Your bag should then be nice and dry and ready for you to dress as normal, leaving you to get on enjoying your daily life.
Tell any of your tips in the comments below, or share your story with the community.
Has cancer impacted your mood during the holidays?