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How to care for a new colostomy?

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A Colostomy is an opening when the large intestine (colon) is brought out to the abdominal wall so that the bowel contents can be collected in a plastic bag. It may be permanent or a temporary colostomy depending upon your condition.

The colostomy appliance usually consists of two parts. The plastic bag which gathers the bowel contents and it needs to be emptied a few times a day. And the wafer which sticks to the skin and clips to the plastic bag. The wafer should not be changed or manipulated till it shows signs of leakage or starts coming off from the skin. However as soon as it starts leaking it should be removed and changed. As you can imagine, the colostomy output will contain digestive enzymes from the stomach and intestines and if it is left in contact with the skin it will “eat up” or irritate the skin. Therefore as soon as the bowel contents starts leaking through the wafer and comes in contact with your skin, the wafer should be removed, the area cleaned and a new wafer must be applied. Initially, you may experience leakage and accidents but this will settle over a period of time.

Occasionally you may develop some redness and irritation around the ostomy bag. Most often this is due to improper wafer application and leakage of bowel contents on the skin. If the skin becomes red and irritated then remove the bag and dry the moist irritated skin using a fan or hand held dryer. Applying Stomahesive powder will also help.

You need multiple teaching sessions with the ostomy nurse. Please schedule an appointment with the ostomy nurse within the next 1-2 weeks.

You must increase the intake of water and electrolytes. Gatorade is an excellent way to replenish the fluid and electrolytes you are losing in colostomy. Ensure/ Boost or Glucerna (if you are diabetic) will also help in keeping up your nutrition.

There is a natural tendency to become dehydrated after this type of surgery. Lack of appetite following surgery combined with the fluid losses through your ileostomy are both contributory. So increase your oral fluid intake. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth or tongue, dizziness, lag cramps, and decrease in urination, darker color urine or weakness. If you experience any of these signs please increase the intake of fluids and call your doctor immediately.


Khawaja Azimuddin M.D. & Tal Raphaeli M.D. & Jean Knapps M.D.

1125 Cypress Station Dr, Suite G, Houston TX 77090

Tel: 281-583 1300  Fax: 281-583 1303


* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.