Showering With an Ostomy (w/ Video)

Showering with an ostomy

When you’re a new ostomate, the inevitable questions about showering tend to come up: Can I get my appliance wet? Should I remove my appliance? Will water hurt my stoma? Fortunately, these questions are pretty easy to answer, but there are certain considerations to keep in mind. 


Ostomy Care Tips: Showering with an ostomy
Watch this video on YouTube.
By playing the above video you agree to YouTube's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Common Issues

In general, showering with your appliance shouldn’t be an issue, since both bags and wafers are designed to be waterproof, however, some ostomates may find the following to be annoying:

Bag Gets Wet

Not so much of a problem if you are used to wearing clear pouches since there’s little to no fabric on them, but things are a little different if you’re wearing an opaque, fabric-covered bag.

One of the gripes I have with Hollister pouches is that they absorb water and need to be thoroughly dried off after getting wet.  By contrast, the Coloplast Sensura Mio’s do a great job repelling water and need no special aftercare when getting out of the shower.

Coloplast Sensura Mio wet
The Coloplast Sensura Mio handles water like a champ!

If your bag gets wet, you can use a towel to pat it dry, but I prefer using a hairdryer instead.  It takes maybe a minute to get things fully dry with a hairdryer, and I find that helps to dry my wafer too. Just use common sense when you’re using a hairdryer, since you will be burned if you’ve got the heat cranked up and have it pointed at your skin.

The Wafer Peels

This may or may not be an issue depending on the appliance you use, but I sometimes find that exposure to water causes my wafer to peel on the edges a bit.  

When this happens, I find that drying the wafer with a hairdryer while pressing down on the edges can get it to stick back onto my skin.

If this happens often, you might want to consider a wafer extender (like Aqua Seal Rings), or medical tape (although you’ll need to use the right tape or it’ll get messy).

The Filter Gets Wet

Most bags with filters on them will include stickers that you’d place over your filter before taking a shower.

When a filter gets wet it no longer works at removing gas from your pouch to prevent ballooning, so it’s important to protect it when you can.

These stickers will help to keep the filter dry, and they can be removed after your shower.

Assortment of ostomy filter stickers
Filter stickers can come in various sizes, shapes, and colors.

Info: I’ve got an entire article dedicated to using filter stickers HERE.

Tip: If you’re recently out of surgery, you may have some fresh wounds to keep covered. It’s best to speak with your doctor or wound care nurse about specific instruction on showering with fresh incisions, but I found that simply protecting them from water worked best for me until the wounds healed.

Use a Removable Shower Head!

Perhaps one of the most useful things to have in your bathroom, a removable shower head allows you to aim water in exactly the spots you want to get wet.  

This offers you control over simply standing under a stream of water, but it does require some maneuvering if the goal is to avoid your incision wounds or appliance.

Another bonus with using a shower head is that it allows you to quickly rinse your tub.

Make a DIY Cover

While not very pretty, practical or time-saving, you can fashion your own cover out of medical tape and plastic wrap (yup, like the stuff you use to keep food fresh).

DIY ostomy shower cover
One of the first DIY shower covers I wore. Note that the tape used in this photo has tiny holes in it, and was not very effective in keeping the water out.

Originally, I had used standard medical tape, which didn’t work well because of the tiny holes in it.  I later switched to using Hy-Tape, which seems to stick better to skin, and is waterproof, but it can still be difficult to handle.

One trick I learned was to prepare my tape before cutting the plastic wrap; I would simply cut four 6″ strips of Hy-Tape (usually 1″ wide) and hang them on a nearby rack that was within reach. I would then cut about 12″ of plastic wrap and lay it over my appliance (which I had folded in half to make smaller).  

I would then tape the top of the plastic wrap, making sure that most of the tape was on my skin, then I’d do the sides and bottom, making sure that there are no tunnels that water could get in from.

I did experiment with leaving the bottom uncovered to save time, but I found that the steam from my showers would get trapped under the cover and would still cause my appliance and wound to get wet, so I’d recommend covering all sides of the plastic wrap.

This system isn’t perfect, and it will take practice, but it’ll do a good enough job to keep your appliance and fresh incisions protected from water and moisture.

Try a Shower Cover

Not covered by insurance (at least not mine), these are commercial products that are designed to keep your appliance dry.  They are worn much like an apron around your waist and can be dried off and reused.

I have tried one brand that features a pouch pocket that protects your entire pouch from getting wet.  You can read the full review on that one HERE.

Info: To read my guide on shower covers, please check out THIS article.

Take the Bag off and Go Completely Naked!

Many ostomates (including yours truly) love to have showers completely in the nude without a bag on. This can be so satisfying, but you do want to hop in during a time you know that your stoma will be inactive.

Taking a shower when you’ve got an active stoma can be a messy affair, so I always have a few gauze pads at the ready to wrap around my stoma before and after I use the shower.

If you happen to poop while in the shower, keep calm and rinse it off your skin and shower floor (that removable shower head will be quite handy at this point!). You can use bleach or a similar cleaner to disinfect the tub after you get out of the shower.

Keep in mind that water will not hurt your stoma, but you should avoid any shampoo, conditioner or soap that has extra moisturizer, or it may leave a film on your skin that makes it difficult for your pouch to stick.

Special Considerations: Anal Wounds

When I had my rectum removed, I had showers with my wound VAC dressing still attached (only the nurse could remove it!), but with the VAC hose disconnected. When the VAC treatment was finally discontinued, and I still had an open wound, I didn’t have to pay any special attention to it.

Question: Have you had any difficulty showering with your ostomy appliance? What about naked showers?

31 thoughts on “Showering With an Ostomy (w/ Video)”

  1. Hi @A.I. , welcome! 
    Wow, you have found such a creative way to deal with your skin problems! Well done, I am always amazed what people can come up with to resolve their problems. It sounds like you’re a very resourceful person. I do hope your skin is doing better now. 
    Please introduce yourself soon, I’d love to know your story. This is a great place to find information, a laugh and a cry. You could also do a search on youtube, try looking for the words ileostomy  ostomate  stomalife  ostomydiary  ostomystory , etc. That’s how I’m finding loads of information, tips and tricks. It’s also how I found this place, and very happy I did.

  2. I wished there was more info out there for people! Good article, a little late for me as I’m self-taught pretty much. I’m 4 months in now and have had to experience accidents and successes on my own and had to be creative along the way. Showering is ok now for me, I just do it every two days and on second day I sometimes don’t empty regularly, -once the bag is full take the whole thing off and pitch it and shower. I am fortunate that I can afford to do this, I did try those up there in the beginning, and also tried a hair cutting cape etc but found them unsuccessful for me. Also. I have experienced rashes on my skin several times in these 4 months. During this, I do not wear a bag during the day. I load up on desitin (on my skin) and wear a baby diaper around my stoma and desitin covered skin and tape it on with medical tape. Then wear my stoma elastic wrap waist band thing over that. Change it out as necessary just as you would a baby!. Only wearing a bag to sleep until rash is completely healed. About a week. It’s quite liberating to have a diaper on your skin instead of that bag! Sometimes I wear one around the house after a shower even if I don’t have a rash, or just some gauze, especially If I know stoma is inactive.
    It’s way Cheaper than the wafer and bag. Lastly I will say get the barrier wax rings! Cut them in half and the stretch and shape them to fit you! They really help to prevent any leak or moisture which is the cause of the rash. You can get two uses out of one barrier by cutting them and reshaping them yourself. Even still 4 months in, it takes me 45 min to prep, shower, reapply everything etc. It’s exhausting.
    OMG so As I reread all this I wrote, I am forgetting about the huge wound as mine has now healed. I’m so sorry if you are reading this and are new to this. Its absolutely horrific. I cried for weeks everyday especially being self taught. You will get thru it. Cry if you must!! It’s absolutely life changing, it’s degrading, depressing, honestly it’s disgusting. BUT you need to be strong! Find help where you can. Once you wound heals and you aren’t packing it anymore, and dealing with that, it’s one less stress on you. And it’s a beautiful relief to only have to worry about the bag. Add a few rashes in there and more crying …. ugg. This does SUCK but you will survive. Find a happy place. After months of being depressed a friend of mines mother told me they had to have colostomy bag, and also leg amputation same time. Made my crying stop. Can’t imagine doing everything I’ve done and gone thru AND without a leg!! Good luck to all of you and God Bless you all ….. take care of you!!! Try to think of positive things and keep your mental on the uppity up. Xoxo

  3. I shower and bathe with my pouch on. My stoma is way too active and powerful. She (Rose) has shot a good 4 feet across the room a few times so not anymore, Too much clean up.  I had bought a few hand towels at the dollar store and cut them in half, now, once out of the shower, I wrap that around my pouch and keep it in place with a clothespin clipped on at the top, and it dries quick enough for me.  


Leave a comment. (Your email will not be published)