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Ostomy Care

Ostomy refers to an opening created surgically in the body to expel body wastes. Dealing with an ostomy means a regular delivery of ostomy supplies from quality makers so you can continue to live a comfortable and normal life even with your ostomy.

Also required as part of ostomy medical supplies are miscellaneous colostomy supplies, ileostomy supplies, ostomy skin barriers, ostomy bags, stoma supplies, ostomy pouches, ostomy accessories, ostomy bag accessories, odor removers, barrier rings, stoma hats, ostomy powder, and paste, ostomy belts as well as drainage and irrigation kits. Together, these ostomy care products address the issues surrounding life with an ostomy bag and make it more acceptable. Once you know which ostomy supplies are most suitable for your ostomy and which ostomy care products work best for you under all circumstances, you will find it easier to handle your ostomy.

What are Ostomy Supplies used for?

Ostomy supplies are considered medically necessary for use on a person with an opening created surgically in the body to expel body wastes. It is deemed essential for colostomies, ileostomies, or urinary ostomies. The quantity of ostomy products for a person is determined primarily by the type of ostomy, its location, its construction, and the skin surface surrounding the stoma. They will vary according to an individual's needs, and their needs may change over time.

Three Types of Ostomies

How to Choose Ostomy Care Products?

Finding ostomy bag supplies should be based on your awareness of the procedure and subsequent needs. Also, the ostomate needs to be aware of the types of ostomy products available and their differences. The basic requirements for ostomy products are an ostomy skin barrier and a collection pouch. 

  1. One-piece ostomy pouch 

    In a one-piece ostomy system, the ostomy pouch and ostomy skin barrier are joined and sold as a single piece. Being one unit, fixing the ostomy bag to the stoma is easier. The one-piece ostomy system makes convenient ostomy supplies for those with dexterity limitations because there is no need to fix the ostomy pouch to the barrier frequently. The one-piece ostomy system is less visible under clothing, making it ideal for wear with tight-fitting clothes. Another advantage is that since it is a one-piece system, the user feels more secure when wearing it because there are fewer chances of the ostomy bag coming off the flange.

    Generally, the one-piece costs less than a two-piece ostomy system; hence, it is more affordable. However, there are a few disadvantages to this ostomy system. Each time the ostomy pouch needs replacing, the entire unit must be changed. This can take its toll on the user's skin, making it tender and irritable. The whole system must be removed and re-attached every time the pouch empties. This involves spending more time on the correct positioning of the ostomy bag around the pouch and incurs the extra use of ostomy supplies like skin barrier paste, adhesive removers, and tape.

  2. Two-piece ostomy bag

    The ostomy bag and barrier are available as two units, purchased separately or as a two-piece kit. The ostomy pouch is separate from the skin barrier in a two-piece ostomy system. The barrier must be fixed to the stoma first, after which the ostomy pouch is attached to the barrier using adhesive allergy or a plastic coupling ring. Because the two items are individual buys, the user has a vast choice of skin barriers and can choose which ostomy bag to go with – small or big, depending on the activity. A small bag would be convenient if going swimming, involved in some sporting activities, or partying. The two-piece system gives the wearer flexibility and more options.

    A two-piece ostomy system also makes it easy for the user to change bags fast during output removal time. The old, filled bag must be disengaged and a new one attached. There is no need to remove the skin barrier daily. It needs changing only once in 2 to 4 days. Two-piece systems protect the skin from constant irritation.

    However, a two-piece ostomy system has its drawbacks, too. It costs more than one-piece ostomy supplies and is also not as discreet. It is bulky under the clothing and visible if worn under tight-fitting clothes. Since they are separate units, the wearer is always worried about the ostomy bag coming away from the skin barrier, and therefore, there is less sense of security.

  3. Ostomy skin barrier

    The ostomy barrier is the device that fixes the skin surrounding the stoma, and the ostomy bag is attached to it. You will often hear ostomy skin barriers referred to as wafers, flanges, devices, or appliances. A flange is a plastic device on the barrier connecting to the ostomy bag. Ostomy skin barriers are designed to be standard wear, extended wear, and sometimes extra extended wear.

    Standard-wear ostomy skin barriers are more suitable as part of colostomy supplies. The extended wear ostomy type, also known as Flextend barrier, is apt for ostomates with ileostomy or urostomy who are likely to be more at risk of skin irritation and infection because of the nature of the output. Because of its spread-out design, extended wear ostomy skin barrier provides extra protection from skin irritation.

    When buying ostomy skin barriers, you must decide between three openings: cut-to-fit, pre-cut, and moldable.

    • Cut-to-fit: In the cut-to-fit type ostomy supplies, the skin barrier must be cut per the stoma’s unique size. Before buying a cut-to-fit flange, measure the stoma size. You must buy an ostomy skin barrier with a flange at least 1/2" (13mm) larger than the widest diameter of the stoma. Opt for the next size if you don’t get the desired size.
    • Pre-cut: In the pre-cut wafer, no cutting is required since it has already been cut. So, this type is ready to go. Just open the box of your ostomy products, remove the wafer, and start using it. But from the wide choices in size, you have to select the one that best fits your stoma.
    • Moldable: The moldable barrier is designed to settle snugly around the stoma, providing a close fit. The moldable design gives additional protection to the ostomy bag from leakage. It fills in the cracks and crevices, thus protecting the skin from irritation and extending wear time.

    Ostomy skin barriers can also be convex or flat. A flat barrier, as the name suggests, lies flat on the skin without any bulge. It is suitable for those with a regular-shaped stoma. A convex type has some protrusion on its back.

Someone with irregular stoma shape and skin contours can opt for the convex type ostomy supplies to provide a more secure seal and better wear time. Ostomy supplies are incomplete without the relevant stoma products, such as Stoma Accessories, adhesives and removers, odor removers, ostomy powder paste and protectants, irrigation and drainage supplies, and ostomy belts.

Ostomy belts are developed to support your ostomy appliance by holding up the bag and keeping the ostomy pouch system in place. The ostomate is worry-free with a belt, knowing it will not allow the bag to weigh down the appliance.

Tips for living with an ostomy

Choosing the ostomy product best for you will depend on your needs. Because there is such a variety of ostomy supplies, you can pick the exact type.

Where to buy Ostomy Supplies online?

Various types of ostomy pouches and ostomy skin barriers are available to provide support and pep up your colostomy supplies, urostomy supplies, and ileostomy supplies. At HPFY, these are available as one-piece or two-piece from trusted ostomy bag suppliers like Marlen, Nu-Hope, ConvaTec, Coloplast, Hollister, etc.

Guides for Stoma Care

Read more about Ostomy Surgery

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Ostomy Tips

8 Stoma Infection Signs You Shouldn't Ignore

Infection of the stoma is one of the main worries of an ostomate. Skin infection around the stoma can happen for various reasons, so it is important to check your stoma and peristomal skin with each ostomy pouch change to

Living with Ostomy

Living With an Ostomy

Christine Kijek Mar 08,2021

The journey of an ostomate is challenging. We are faced with fear of the unknown, fear of the changes in our bodies and fear of acceptance.


7 Essential Colostomy Supplies You Must Have

Whether the colostomy is short or long-term, the supplies required will remain the same. In the hospital, the nursing staff will provide you with an ostomy pouch, skin barrier, and other items. Once you are home, you can explore other


Frequently asked questions

An ostomy is a surgically-created intestinal or urinary tract diversion that modifies the normal pathway for waste elimination. This opening is called a "stoma". It is made by creating a space in the abdominal wall. Unlike in the original passage, there is no sphincter muscle on the stoma. Therefore, there is no control over the elimination of waste and the patient will need to wear a Ostomy bag to collect the waste that flows from the stoma.

An ostomy is an surgically made opening in the body, specifically in the abdomen, created surgically for the discharge of bodily waste matter.

An ostomy bag, also referred to as an ostomy pouch, is designed to collect feces or urine discharged from the stoma. It is usually made from plastic and available in varying styles and sizes.

Timing varies for each individual. No matter which type of an ostomy a person has, the stoma bag typically has to be emptied about 4 to 8 times daily.

Manufacturer recommends using an ostomy bag for a maximum of seven days. After this, the product might break down or no longer offer the protection for which it has been designed.

An ostomy belt supports your colostomy, urostomy or ileostomy bag and conceals your ostomy appliance. It holds the weight of your ostomy bag as it fills and reduces the burden of gravity or stress on your flange/wafer thus increasing the wear time of your device. It also keeps your ostomy appliance discreet under your clothing.

An ostomy or skin barrier, also known as a wafer or flange, is an ostomy device that is made to fit around the stoma. It fixes to the peristomal skin creating a seal around the stoma to prevent leakage and maintains a secure connection between the pouch and the stoma.

You can do either. Soap and water from the shower will not harm the stoma. If showering with it off, it is best to choose a time the stoma is least active, such as in the morning before eating or drinking anything. Water will not compromise the pouching system, however, if you have a pouch with a filter, you will need to place the sticker provided in the box over the filter. Once the filter gets wet, it does not work properly. Some will cover the pouch with plastic and medical tape to keep it dry.

Stoma nurses have differing opinions on this. I am proactive in keeping the peristomal skin healthy and recommend using it. It sets up the skin to accept the adhesive. Choose one without alcohol. If the skin becomes red or breaks down, it won’t burn.

It is normal to pass mucous and/or stool from the rectum when you have an ostomy. One of the functions of the colon is to secrete mucous to keep things lubricated. This is still occurring even though you are diverted. If your surgery was emergent and you did not do a bowel prep to clean the colon prior to surgery, you will eventually pass what was remaining in the colon. If you have a loop colostomy or a loop ileostomy rather than an end ostomy, stool can travel down the part of the stoma that is still connected to the lower end. This allows the waste to travel the normal route.

If you have a colostomy, wear time of the pouch can be up to 7 days. Again, I am proactive in keeping the peristomal skin healthy and recommend the pouch be changed every 5 days. If you have an ileostomy, wear time is 3-4 days. The output is more acidic from digestive enzymes and can breakdown the material of the barrier more quickly. Don’t wait for the system to leak before changing. You can be in control.

Stomas placed in the lower right or left abdomen will usually be below the waist and sit underneath pants. This makes them less noticeable. For stomas placed in the upper abdomen can be a little more challenging. Wearing loose-fitting shirts is helpful. Consider a pouch cover. For women, wearing a longer top will conceal the bottom of the pouch. For men, also wearing long shirts and avoiding tucking into the pants are a good idea. You may want to consider looking into a Wrap. This is an undergarment that men or women can wear around the portion of the abdomen where the stoma is. It minimizes the bulk of the pouch and has a pocket to support the pouch as it fills. Check out Ostomy support garments on the HPFY website.

There are three common types of ostomies:
  • Colostomy
  • Ileostomy
  • Urostomy

There are many reasons why you would need a stoma. Bladder cancer, Bowel cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, or a bladder or bowel obstruction are all common causes. Depending on the cause, a stoma may be temporary or permanent.

Managing peristomal skin is one of the most important things. Although, some people feel one does not need to use a skin barrier film for protection, one should be “pro-active” in keeping the skin in good shape. It is recommended to use one. It is also recommended to clean the peristomal skin with water. Soap can leave a residue and most soaps have moisturizers in them. Adding moisture to the skin can hinder the adhesive of your next pouching system. Avoid using “baby wipes” or flushable wipes as many of these have moisture additives as well. If you develop skin redness or a rash, consider discussing with an ostomy nurse or your surgeon.

An ileostomy bag needs to be emptied multiple times day since the output is loose. A closed ended pouch is not appropriate. Insurance will cover 2 pouches per day. If you choose to go this route, it will be costly as you would need to pay out of pocket. If you have a colostomy and have 1-2 BMs per day, the closed end ostomy pouch is economical and a good choice. Flushable liners are available and can be used for either ileostomies or colostomies but you will need to use a 2-piece system.

Hollister, Coloplast, ConvaTec,Nu-Hope, Micro-Skin all offer 1- and 2-piece pouching systems, flat or convex. Each manufacturer offers different options. As an example, some of the Coloplast lines are firmer than others. These feel more secure to some. While others like the flexibility of Micro-Skin. Velcro closures are different on each of these manufacturers' products. Some may have a skin sensitivity to one brand but not to others. Nu-Hope makes special molds for special needs. Coloplast offers deep convexity for those stomas that retract deeply when sitting. They also offer a “convex flip” for parastomal hernias. Once you are comfortable with managing your ostomy, it is recommended to request samples of others to see what features you may like better.

First, check the fit of your barrier. The size and shape of your stoma can change with weight gain or loss, or the development of a parastomal hernia (a bulging around the stoma). If the skin is red but not moist, consider stoma powder and use a barrier film spray over the powder so your pouch will adhere well. If you develop a rash that is itchy, it most likely is a fungal rash from moisture (this occurs most often in warmer weather). Using an antifungal powder with each pouching change will help. Use a barrier film spray over the powder so your pouch will adhere well. Stop using it once the rash has resolved. If the skin is raw and moist, consider Marathon skin protectant (made by Medline). Once applied to the weepy skin, Marathon leaves a dry coating over the skin, allowing your pouching system to stick. Be sure to change the system in about 3 days to reassess the skin (you want to be sure it is healing).

  • With an ileostomy, the small intestine is brought up through the skin to create the stoma. The output is expected to be loose since the function of the colon is bypassed.
  • With a colostomy, the colon is used to create the stoma. The output is based on where in the colon the stoma is created. A stoma closest to the rectum can have formed stool whereas the closer to the right side or small intestine, the stool becomes looser.
  • A urostomy is made out of the small intestine. The ureters from both kidneys are connected to allow urine to drain from the body. This type of ostomy is placed when the urinary bladder needs to be removed.

The best time to change is the time when the ostomy is least active. For ileostomies, this is usually the first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything. Of course, if the pouch is leaking, it should be changed immediately. The same is true for colostomies. Urostomies are usually active most of the time.

It is recommended to empty the pouch when it is half full. The fuller the pouch, the heavier it becomes. The weight may cause separation of the barrier from the skin, causing leakage.

Traveling with an ostomy is not difficult but requires some planning. Obtaining a TSA card from the United Ostomy Association is a good idea if you are flying. Carry supplies onboard in a carry-on bag in case your luggage is lost. Use disposable products when possible. Pack extra supplies, this way you can worry less about running out.

There is no sphincter muscle to stop the flow of stool from any ostomy. Ileostomies drain stool often. Urostomies drain urine often. Those with colostomies do not have control over stool output. However, if the stoma is in the sigmoid or descending colon and there is a stool which has formed, irrigation is an option for controlling stool output.

Absolutely! While pouching systems can get wet, there are many products available for “waterproofing” your system. Try barrier strips or occlusive/ transparent dressings placed around the edges. Try the Ostomy Secrets website for swimwear (for both men and women). It is recommended to keep an extra pouching system at hand just in case. Also, empty your pouch before jumping in.

Yes, the stoma has many blood capillaries at the surface. They rupture easily when cleaning or touching the stoma. This should stop rather quickly. If the opening is too small and rubbing on the edge of the stoma, you may note more bleeding. If your pouch is filling with blood, contact your surgeon immediately.

No. The stoma has no nerve endings and no feeling when touched or when it is draining air or stool. You should be cautious when wearing a seat belt or participating in contact sports.