How Do I Change a Colostomy Bag?

The exact steps needed to change a colostomy bag may depend on the type of bag you are using.
A stoma is an opening surgically created in the body that leads from the inner abdomen to the outside of the body and deposits waste into the colostomy bag.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2014
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The steps you may take to change a colostomy bag may depend on the type of bag you are using. In general, however, you will usually have to remove the old colostomy bag and clean the area that surrounds the stoma before attaching a clean bag. For example, if you are using the stick-on type of colostomy bag, a very common type, you may first size the wax required for use to fit the stoma. Next, you may remove the adhesive backing and stick the colostomy bag onto the skin surrounding the stoma. Finally, you may add a little stoma paste to make the seal more reliable and finish up by clamping the end of the colostomy bag to keep fecal matter inside the bag.

The exact steps you will take to change a colostomy bag may depend on the type of bag you are using. In most cases, however, you will have to clean the area around the stoma of fecal matter. You may use a clean rag, soap, and warm water to clean this area. Cleaning this area is important not only for sanitary reasons but also to ensure the adhesive will stick to the skin properly. Once you’ve cleaned the area, you will usually have to dry it completely before beginning the steps to apply a new colostomy bag.


To apply a stick-on type of colostomy bag, you will usually have to make sure the wax that allows the bag to adhere to the skin fits around your stoma. You may have to trim the wax a bit to ensure a good fit. You may then press the opening that has the wax against your dry skin and apply stoma paste around it for an effective seal. When you change a colostomy bag, the last step is usually clamping the bottom of the colostomy bag shut.

Many people who use stick-on colostomy bags shave the area around their stomas before they apply new bags. This may not only help to keep this area clean, but also may prevent you from pulling out longer hairs when the time comes to change a colostomy bag again. Unfortunately, however, this usually won’t prevent all hair pulling, as new hair may grow between colostomy bag changes.

The strap-on type of colostomy bag works a little differently from the stick-on type. It doesn’t require you to cut or handle any adhesive. This type of bag is positioned over the stoma, and a special belt holds it in place. As with changing the stick-on type, you will usually begin this type of change by cleaning the area and shaving the skin to prevent hair pulling. After this initial preparation, you can simply strap on the new bag.


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