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Changing Your Stoma Appliance

Changing your stoma appliance is one of the first skills you’ll need to learn after stoma surgery. Learn what supplies you’ll need, and the steps to changing your pouching system. 

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Learn how to change your pouch.

It is important to know how to change your stoma appliance properly to maintain skin health, and for optimal comfort and security. 

The area around your stoma where the stoma pouch is placed is called the peristomal skin. The sticky area of your pouch is called the skin barrier and is designed to protect the peristomal skin whilst allowing it to breathe. It is important to keep peristomal skin clean and protected from stoma output. 

It is the stoma output that may cause soreness of the peristomal skin, not the continuous use and removal of the skin barrier or pouch. If your peristomal skin becomes uncomfortable, itchy, red, or sore, this may indicate you have some seepage of the stoma output onto the skin. Your pouch needs to be taken off; the area washed, rinsed and dried; and a new pouch applied. You may need to review the fit of your pouch or contact your stoma care nurse if this problem is ongoing. 

In the first few days and weeks after stoma surgery, it may take more time to change your pouch. Like any skill, you’ll be able to change it faster over time. Preparation is the key. Follow the tips and guidelines below, and you’ll become an expert at changing your stoma appliance in no time.

Items you’ll need

Have all the supplies and equipment you’ll need at hand before starting. Here is a list of items you should have ready before you begin changing your stoma appliance:

  • Disposal bag 
  • Non-woven wipes for washing/drying peristomal skin
  • Warm water for washing
  • Fragrance-free mild soap (if required) 
  • New pouch and skin barrier 
  • Scissors for cutting the skin barrier (if required)
  • Any other products or accessories (if required)
  • Clothes pegs or safety pins (if required)


How to change your pouch

  1. Secure clothing out of the way
  2. Remove the used stoma pouch carefully from top to bottom; as you slowly peel the barrier away, support the adjacent skin
  3. Wash the stoma and surrounding skin with dampened non-woven wipes
  4. Dry the skin thoroughly with a dry non-woven wipe
  5. Remove the backing paper before applying a new skin barrier

When washing the peristomal area, it is not advisable to use baby wipes/wet wipes, disinfectants, or antiseptic fluids, since they may cause skin reactions around the stoma. Do not apply anything to the skin unless recommended by your stoma care nurse or healthcare professional.

Disposal of pouches

If possible, empty your stoma pouch before disposal. Place the used stoma pouch in a disposal bag and seal it, and then put the sealed disposal bag in a rubbish bin. Nappy sacks make good disposal bags for used stoma pouches.