How to Shower with an Ostomy

New ostomates often have questions about how to bathe or shower with their system. One persistent belief is that their pouch will detach or require extra time to dry. Rather than make assumptions, learn how to approach showering with an ostomy here.

The Basics

Generally, everyday bathing will not alter your pouch’s adhesion or security. However, longer showers or hot baths can end up decreasing the pouch’s overall adhesion and wear time. It is ultimately your choice whether to bathe with or without your ostomy system attached.

Following your operation, it’s often recommended that you wait two to three days to bathe. However, your doctor may provide you with more personalized advice based on your condition. 

When bathing WITH an ostomy system: 

You’ll find, when done properly, that showering with your pouch is a perfectly reasonable proposition. If secured and fitted properly, it won’t detach. 

When showering with the pouch, it’s important to remember: 

– No matter if you use a single or two-piece ostomy pouch, fully empty the contents before bathing.
– If the pouch contains a filter, add a cover or sticker over top to prevent water from passing through.
– Avoid extremely hot showers, as the steam may interfere with adhesion.

Some opt to cover their stoma while they shower. Various covers and appliances provide a solution. Realize, however, that they can stick to body hair, compromising the material’s effectiveness. Should you decide to go this route, fully secure the cover to your abdominal area. As well, understand that such methods don’t protect the stoma in an immersive bath or hot tub.

When bathing WITHOUT an ostomy system: 

– Consider scheduling your shower for a time when the stoma is less active.
– Be sure to remove the full system — including the barrier. Keeping the barrier on can decrease its security and adhesion because of potential water leakage through the inner hole of the barrier. That said, water itself won’t harm your stoma.
– Your stoma won’t need to be cleaned directly — and shouldn’t be scrubbed. Rather, it’s recommended that you allow the soapy water from your body to flow over the area.
– Use a soap that’s free of oils and/or moisturizers. They can leave a residue on the skin that won’t fully rinse off and might compromise the new barrier’s adhesion.
– Attach a new pouch directly after your shower.

Drying Your Pouch and Stoma

Following your shower, ensure the area is completely dry before attaching a new pouch and barrier. Have a towel ready to dab the stoma and surrounding skin immediately after your shower. 

Should you opt to wear your system in the shower, it’s important to remember that not all materials dry equally. For a non-covered pouch or a stoma cap, a quick towel dry should be sufficient. 

A cloth-covered pouch will take longer, and a towel alone may not be enough. You may want to consider using a hair dryer set to low heat. This quickly air dries the area without potentially melting or damaging the appliance. 


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