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Colostomy Helpful Hints

  • Your colostomy is not sterile or infectious, normal hand washing hygiene is all that is required after emptying or changing your pouch. There is no need to use gloves or disinfectant.
  • You may notice a little blood on the toilet paper when cleaning your colostomy – this is normal.
  • Always ensure that you have a minimum of two weeks supply of your colostomy products. If your stock is running low and a delivery is not due, please contact your Association (AUS) or STN (NZ).
  • Store your colostomy products in a cool, dry place. If you become over stocked with supplies, please contact your Association (AUS) or STN (NZ) who will place a hold on deliveries.
  • In case of an unexpected leak always carry a spare pre-cut pouch in a disposable rubbish bag with you. 
  • If you visit a hospital out patient’s department or are admitted to hospital you MUST bring your colostomy supplies with you. The department that you are visiting may not be able to supply your individual product. 
  • You can shower or bathe with your pouch off or on. There is no guarantee that your stoma will not work while you are bathing. Once you are recovered from your surgery your colostomy may establish a regular pattern of evacuation. Bathing can be worked around this pattern.
  • You may need to shave around the stoma to improve the adhesion of your pouch. To protect your stoma from injury when shaving, cover it with the inner cardboard tube from a toilet roll.
  • In New Zealand, your initial community support will be from the District Nurse team who will be responsible for any wound care and with assisting you to become competent at colostomy care.
  • In Australia, support needed after discharge from hospital will be discussed while you are in hospital. Community nursing services may be arranged if this is required. You can make contact with your STN if you have specific stoma related issues.

Managing Constipation

  • If there is no output from your colostomy for three days, but you feel well, increase your fluid intake and add fibre to your diet i.e. prunes, kiwifruit, dried apricots. If further assistance is required contact your STN or see your family doctor for advice.
  • If there has been no output from your colostomy for three days or more and you feel unwell, i.e. nausea, bloating, abdominal cramps see your family doctor.

Managing Diarrhoea

  • If you eat food that upsets your gut you may get diarrhoea and/or vomiting. You will need to change your pouch to a drainable one to contain the liquid output. Increase your fluid intake. If this continues for more than 24 hours or you are unable to maintain your fluid intake please see your family doctor.
  • Undergoing chemotherapy may also alter the consistency of your colostomy output which may require the use of a drainable pouch to contain liquid output.

To allow recovery you are strongly advised to refrain from heavy lifting for at least the first eight weeks after surgery. It is recommended that you discuss the value of using a support garment with your STN.