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How to Change an Ostomy Pouch in a Public Bathroom

Colostomy is new to you and you still have concerns about how to take care of your stoma and pouch system. You want information on issues like: How to change ostomy pouch in a public bathroom? Here you will find a few tips on how to attend to such matters. 

  • How do I change an ostomy pouch in a public bathroom? 

The first thing to know when you are changing your pouch system is related to the type of bag you are using. Whether you are dealing with a drainable or a closed-end bag will demand a specific technique to be followed. The good thing to know is that techniques are not widely different from each other. 

Drainable bags are reusable until they reach their wear-out time and then it requires emptying before you consciously dispose of them. On the contrary, closed-end bags are not reusable and they need to be emptied only once, followed by conscious disposal before a new bag is placed around the wafer. By the way, conscious disposal means that before discarding your bag, it is advisable to think how to do it ecologically since this is a recurrent activity for ostomates!  

A new bag, wafer, flange and all accessories you generally use should always be stored in a personal take-out kit for your convenience. Adequate items such as toilet paper, toilet seat covers, clean cloth or wipers, pouch clips and deodorant should also be stored there. Do not overfill your outdoor kit: only retain what you may need for one or two bag changes and this includes having enough –not too many- accessories. Once in the public washroom, keep items close to you when emptying and changing your pouch. 

At home, in your personal bathroom, you can try and select the best (and maybe the second best, too) position that you find more comfortable and convenient to be used in public restrooms. You can either, stand, sit or kneel in front of the toilet, whichever one you find that works best for you. If you are going to sit, remember to place a seat cover on the toilet seat. 

  • How to change a drainable pouch? 

Here are some useful tips to change a drainable pouch in a public bathroom:           

  • Before placing a new pouch, you have to empty and discard the old bag. To do this, open the old bag, aim its contents directly to the toilet and carefully drain them. As a technique, you can place clips around the bag and slide them down to take the stool out of the bag. Some people use their fingers for this job instead. Once the old bag is emptied, you can seal it and then, it is ready for disposal. Don´t forget to flush the toilet and wash your hands when finished! 
  • Relevant things to remember when emptying pouches in public washrooms: too much toilet paper placed on the toilet may cause it to overflow and make a terrible mess. Also, be careful enough not to let water splashes on your clothes and/or skin.  
  • With a clean wet cloth or toilet paper, gently wipe the stoma area and wafer before placing a new pouch. 
  • Spray a deodorant of your preference in your new bag and place it around the wafer. Check that the bag outlet is tightly closed. Discard used wipers or toilet paper. Avoid filling up the new bag with air to prevent leaks. Wash your hands again before coming out of the washroom! 
  • How to change a non-drainable pouch? 

Here are some useful tips to change a non-drainable pouch in a public bathroom:           

  • As it was mentioned before, closed-end pouches are not reusable. They usually have to be changed when they are about three-quarters full. At this point, the old bag will be removed from the wafer and empty in a way similar to drainable bags. 
  • With a clean wet cloth or toilet paper, gently wipe the stoma area and wafer before placing the new closed-end bag. 
  • Spray a deodorant of your preference in your bag before placing it around the wafer. 
  • Discard the old pouch, any wipers or toilet paper used. Make sure the washroom is tidy and clean. Wash your hands before leaving the room! 

When you are changing your pouch away from home, keep in mind a few basic things and have a simple planned strategy to prevent unwanted ostomy events from happening!