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A Guide To Living With A Stoma

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100% accuracy at time of writing cannot be guaranteed.  A listing in this website is provided for informational purposes only, and does not mean it is an endorsement.  All companies listed are tried at the reader’s own risk.  All information provided is intended as a supplement to any professional help already

given.  Before acting on suggestions from anyone, ostomates are advised to check with a doctor or stoma care nurse that the course of action is suitable

for them. Whilst every care is taken, the author will not be held responsible.
















When shopping, care should be taken not to lift heavy items or to push an overloaded shopping trolley, so as not to put extra pressure on the pelvic area.  If an item is heavy or awkward, ask for assistance.  Care should also be taken when reaching for items on high shelves, so as not to overstretch the pelvic area.

If there are going to be large crowds at the shops, many ostomates feel more confident when they

wear a stoma protector, e.g. OstoSHIELD.


Accessories/Stoma Protectors

Many ostomates wonder if they will be able to participate in sport.  If the surgery was very recent, at first, it is best to avoid any form of strenuous exercise or sports.  Once a patient is fully recovered from an operation, and as long as a surgeon or doctor gives the go-ahead, an ostomate can enjoy any sport they wish to try.

It is advisable to take things easy at first, and to gradually build up strength and fitness to more aggressive exercise or sports, as and when able.  Gentle walking and swimming are a good starting point.  Just take one’s time.  Listen to the body, and rest if tiredness is felt.

Contact or adventurous sports do not have to be avoided, but care needs to be taken about the type and degree of such a sport.  For a contact sport, e.g. rugby, it may be wise to wear a guard over the stoma, such as OstoSHIELD, which is held in place by an elasticated belt.  This protector is available from Respond.

It is essential that ostomates confidentially declare the fact that they have a stoma, when they are participating in some sports.  For example, many ostomates enjoy horse riding, but it may be

necessary for the dismounting procedure to be amended so that any possible problems do not arise.

It is important to be wary of some sports, e.g. weight lifting, kickboxing, etc. so as to avoid a

prolapsed stoma or parastomal hernia.  

Some ostomates prefer a smaller capacity pouch when they are participating in sports, and some

prefer to wear a belt.

Many ostomates exercise and play sport on a regular basis.  However, if there is any uncertainty about anything, follow the recommendations of your doctor or nurse.


Accessories/Stoma Protectors

Should an ostomate wish to go swimming, this should not prove a problem.  All stoma appliances are designed to stay on when in contact with water.  However, for added security, it is advisable to allow some time after changing a flange before swimming - overnight is best, but at least one/two hours to ensure that it has adhered properly.  The material on the pouch is usually made from towel dry material.  If an ostomate wears a pouch with a filter, a filter cover or tape should be used to stop water harming the filter.

Obviously, prior to swimming, make sure that the appliance is emptied completely.

You do not need to wear a special appliance, but some ostomates find it more discreet, when swimming, to wear a smaller capacity stoma pouch under a swimming costume or trunks.  These mini, non-drainable pouches/caps are available from most companies.  Some ostomates prefer to wear their normal-sized pouch, rolling up the end a little and taping it to their skin, so that the pouch becomes less obtrusive.

Some ostomates feel more secure if a flange is ‘picture framed’ by using waterproof tape or a product such as HydroFrame, a flange extender.  ‘Picture framing’ is when tape is placed around all four sides of the flange, i.e. as if the flange is being put in a picture frame.

Frequent dips in the water and hot weather may affect the adhesion of the appliance, making it necessary to change more frequently than normal, so ensure that extra supplies are carried.  Also, some ostomates find that the adhesive can become ‘tacky’, and when the flange is removed, it leaves a residual adhesive on the skin.  If the skin and pouch are allowed to dry properly, the adhesive should return to normal.

Swimwear itself can be a problem, but there are some companies, who make specialised swimwear, which will cover the appliance.  Costumes with bold, patterned fabrics may help to conceal bulges or the outline of the appliance.  Solid, plain colours can reveal an appliance.  A swimsuit with a good lining or with double-layered fabric can support the abdomen, and once again help to hide the pouch.



A toilet card (sometimes called a ‘no waiting card’ or ‘just can’t wait card’) is a credit-card sized card, which states that the holder has a medical condition, and requires the urgent use of toilet facilities.  This card helps avoid having to wait in a long queue for a toilet, which could be very inconvenient and embarrassing.  For peace of mind, ensure that this card is carried at all times.

Should there be an emergency, this card can also prove useful as a discreet way of requesting the

use of toilet facilities, e.g. shopping centres, retail outlets, restaurants, etc., where there are no public facilities available.  There is no guarantee that the person will allow the use of a private toilet, but they are more likely to consider and understand the nature of the request, if a toilet card is shown.

Many companies issue these cards, free of charge.  For more information, please telephone the companies direct.  The following are some companies, who might be able to help, but there are

several other companies who also offer the cards.

Bladder & Bowel Community

Hollister and Pelican Healthcare offer toilet cards to patients, who are registered with their

home delivery service.  



S - Z

Most ostomates will experience a leakage at one time or another.  Therefore, it can be very helpful

to have some appliances and accessories to hand in a small travel kit, which could be kept in a

desk, drawer, locker, etc., or carried discreetly in a coat pocket, handbag, etc.  A small cosmetic-style bag could be used as a travel kit.

From time to time, check this travel kit to ensure that the adhesive still looks fine, and that it has not melted.

It is always handy to carry some wet cleansing wipes or extra tissues for use in public toilets, or to

clean up any accidental mess.

Some of the items, which are useful to carry in a travel kit, are:


●  Replacement flanges and pouches.

●  Relevant accessories, e.g. barrier cream, stoma paste, etc.

●  Disposal bags and dry wipes.

●  Wet wipes, in case of being in a toilet with no washing facilities.

●  Scissors (except when flying).

●  Clothes peg.

●  RADAR key.

●  RADAR toilet key.

All ostomates are entitled to use accessible/disabled toilets.  The blue symbol on the door is the international symbol for disability, and it does not mean that the facility is for wheelchair users only.  These toilets give more privacy and have private washbasin facilities, normally with hot and cold

water supplies.  Other benefits of accessible toilets are that these toilets are not as cramped as

standard ones, and normally they have a waste bin suitable for the disposal of used appliances.

If there is an opportunity to use toilet facilities, do so, even if there is very little to empty in the

pouch.  It is sometimes an unknown factor when there may be another chance.

In some accessible toilets, the lights are often on timers.  This can be very inconvenient, and some ostomates have overcome this problem, by carrying a small, headband torch with them.  These headband torches can be obtained from climbing, camping or walking specialists, or a search can

be made online using the word ‘headband torch’.

As well as accessible toilets, the National Key Scheme, exclusive to the UK, offers independent access

for people with disabilities to around 9,000 locked, specially adapted public toilets across the country.  This ensures that people who need the use of a toilet can find a suitable and accessible one in good, clean condition.  These toilets show the Radar name, and are unlocked with a special key to avoid vandalism.  All ostomates are eligible for this key, which can be obtained from Disability Rights UK.   

Radar publishes a Region List, which shows all the National Key Scheme toilets by region.  A list

relevant to an ostomate’s area can be obtained in return for a donation with every purchase

 of the key.

In addition, the Radar key is available from some local social services and council offices, tourist information offices, Age UK and the Colostomy UK.

There are various other ways of locating toilets and accessible toilets throughout the UK.

For ostomates living or visiting London, The Great British Public Toilet Map may be useful.

On iTunes, there are some free apps, for finding public toilets  -

On Google Play, there are similar apps for finding public toilets -



Flush - Crowdsourced


Toilocator - Toilets Near You

Flush Toilet Finder & Map


Toilet Finder