Should You Wear Your Stoma Pouch When Showering?

by Stephie Simpson

Bag On Or Off When Showering

Bag on or off when showering? This question is asked so often in the ostomy community, but it really is a matter of personal choice.

The type of stoma you have will likely impact on your preferences for showering and bathing. I’ve noticed that people with colostomies don’t have as many issues as those with ileostomies, as they have a less frequent, and more predictable, emptying pattern. Of the people I’ve spoken to who have urostomies, they seem to be less concerned if they wash with or without their bag.

There is no wrong answer, and I’ve done both.

The idea of showering without wearing a bag horrified me!

When I first had my ileostomy, I really didn’t like the idea of an unexpected leak because the thought of it on me - even though I could immediately rinse it off - made me feel dirty. However, one day I just decided to give it a go without my bag and, to be honest, that first time I really didn’t like it! So I went back to showering with my bag on for a few more months.

Changing my mind 

Sometime after that I changed my mind again and shifted to the other end of the spectrum, where I would shower with my bag off, without worry. It probably started when I began my morning swimming sessions at the local pool. I knew if I hadn’t eaten beforehand then I was far less likely to produce anything, so felt more comfortable. I was also struggling with the ‘waterproof’ bags that clung to me and wouldn’t be dry enough for me to get dressed post-swim. If my husband, Steve, was there it wasn’t a problem as I could change my bag in the toilets and he would watch our daughter, but it’s far more difficult on  my own – let’s face it, tired toddlers aren’t fun, whether you have an ostomy or not!

Showering without a bag improved my skin 

I soon started having my showers at home without my bag, and the skin around my stoma began to improve. It felt far less itchy – although this isn’t the case for everyone. I would have all my supplies ready for when I got out, so it was just a case of drying off and popping a new bag on.

If I do shower with my bag on, sometimes I’ll need to dry my hair first, which means sitting there with a sodden bag, so these are my tips for reducing discomfort:  pat lightly with a towel/use the hairdryer to take off the excess water, or buy the towelling bag covers (from online sellers such as Stoma Style) which keep the wetness from irritating skin.

When you’re away from home 

When I’m at a friend’s house, or staying with a family member, and I need to have a shower I will always have my bag on as a matter of respect, whereas at a hotel I don’t care in the slightest! Although, wherever I am, if I have my stoma out (even if no output has escaped) I always make sure I give the shower a good rinse because I don’t think it’s fair for the next person who uses it. That is just my personal opinion on the situation, probably due to my many years of working in health and social care.

When it comes to taking a bath though, I still prefer (and I think always will) to have a bath with my bag on. I might, at the very end of bath time, peel my bag off and let my stoma soak because it means I can high tail it outta there if I need to!

How do you feel about having your bag on or off when in the shower, or even the bath? Let me know in the comments below!

Stephie Simpson

About the author

I’m Stephie - a mum, wife and punk rock ostomate, blessed to be from North Yorkshire. I'll be writing about different campaigns that can help ostomates & general lifestyle posts.

Recent Comments

  • aoneill1946@outlook.com

    Hi Stephie.
    Sometimes I shower with the pouch on & sometimes with the pouch off. Having said that, if I am in a hurry, I shower with it on, then change the pouch straight after. If I have more time, I shower with the pouch off, as I think that it cleans around the Stoma area more efficiently. The only problem with doing that is, although I do it on a morning, so there is a smaller chance of any output, sometimes there is output coming onto the shower floor. I stay in the shower until I have washed it away. It might not happen at all, it might happen once, or it may happen several times while having a shower. I can be in the shower quite a while sometimes. Anthony. County Durham.

  • Paul

    Bag off every time. I prep everything ready for when I come out of the shower. Towel dry around my stoma then cover with a dry gauze pad whilst I open an LBF wipe to prep my skin in readiness for my new pouch. A little orahesive powder on any sore skin and then apply my new bag. Love that feeling , almost as good as getting into a new bed with clean sheets. Obviously there are times where you have to wait for the right moment to get out of the shower and get a new bag on to prevent any accidents. Commando all the way

  • Rob

    I haven’t tried a shower yet with my bag off but I will give it a go tomorrow morning hopefully all goes well.

  • Sharon

    I had a bowel op in June 2018 and I’m scared to shower or bath with bag off

  • Jen

    Bag off! I feel cleaner and i get a little freedom from the bag.

  • Jana

    I haven't tried yet with my bag left on. I was thinking of doing it today since my set up was just applied yesterday. I feel like if I can make my wafer last several days it's better for my skin. (Does the water affect the sticky part of the wafer?)

    I'm fairly new to this and find the most challenging part to be only showering every 3rd or 4th day. My nurse said it's normal for ostomy patients to do this but... I kind of hate it!

  • Desi

    I've tried both methods. If I plan to change my wafer, then it's bag off. Otherwise, it's bag on. I use Stomahesive under the wafer tape. It holds up well for several days so I don't have to change my wafer every day.

  • Cheryl Seavey

    I usually make sure the night before dinner is super light then starve myself the next day & then about 5-6pm I get in shower pull bag and rinse then take the wafer off. I still usually have some stuff. I feel the same way as above, I feel dirty and my shower would be dirty & now have to clean. I also feel taking shower with bag ,& wafer on that when the wafer gets wet it makes it weak like getting a bandaid wet. Then it's not as secure. I have had mine since 2012. It is such a pain in the butt.

    • SecuriCare_Team

      Hi Cheryl, you might like to try a free sample of UltraFrame flange extenders (from our sister company, CliniMed) for showering with.
      https://www.clinimed.co.uk/stoma-care/products/stoma-skin-care-and-accessories/ultraframe-flange-extenders. They're waterproof :)

  • Marty Vaughn

    I am 2 weeks post op with my ileostomy. I must add this had given my life back after having UC for 11 years. I shower without my bag on change days, with on non change days.
    I am so thankful to get my health back, and I'm sure it'll get better as things heal.

  • Charlotte

    I’m 4 weeks post op this coming Saturday and I shower with bag off. Had a few problems with itching so this calms it down sometimes

  • James

    I had my op 4 weeks ago today and I'm worried to shower with it on or off I usually just soak my body becuse I'm not sure if the bag will fall off or if I have to chnsge the bag after need advice!

Add a Comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Enter your email address to join our email list

Message Sent

Thank you for submitting your enquiry. We will be in contact with you shortly