Showering Without an Ostomy Appliance

I had a bad rash on my skin under my ostomy appliance a little while ago which forced me to go to a dermatologist. I know a lot of people would go to a wound care (or ostomy) nurse but that is just my preference. Along with a foam that dries before putting the flange on to avoid an adhesive issue, he talked to me about how much the skin loves to breathe.

To note: there is a real image of the rash at the bottom of this article.

Changing an ostomy appliance

Without the personal experience of an ostomy, a lot of things are often not thought about. For example, my doctor told me to apply the foam twice a day for a minimum of two weeks. That would require me to change my appliance two times a day when traditional wear time is between 3-7 days.

That is a lot of yanking adhesive off of my skin when there is no real need. I was changing it a lot more frequently given how irritated it was but that still sounded extreme to me. I ended up figuring out how to balance his directions with my own knowledge about my body and thankfully, it did the trick.

Back to my doctor and my quick conversation…

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My showering habits with an ostomy

When he told me that skin loves to breathe and went into how running water is great for it, it made me think of my showering habits. Up until that day, I had never taken a shower without the appliance on with my current ostomy. Based on my experiences with my first loop ileostomy, I didn’t like taking a chance that stool would come out while I was showering or even worse, while I was getting out of the shower and trying to get dried up and clothed.

I would be lying if I didn’t mention that I am someone who likes to pretend they don’t have an ostomy. I know that sounds weird and impossible but it is also the reason I barely eat during the day {less time spent in the bathroom.}

Allowing my skin to breathe in the shower

I just want to focus on my life, be as productive as my mind and body will allow each day and not have to worry about what is going on under my shirt. So, I made the decision to always keep my appliance on while showering. I blew it dry afterward and do try to minimize the time it gets wet to limit the chances of some sort of infection, but other than that, I realized I never, EVER, allow my skin to breathe.

I figured now was the time to do it since it was so irritated to begin with and I wanted to give it the best chance of healing as quickly as possible; especially since I wasn’t going to be removing my appliance twice a day. The first time I showered with just my bare skin felt amazing and so different, in a good way. I haven’t felt water on that part of my skin in years and if I ignored the stoma sticking out of my stomach, it made me feel like I was more of a “normal” gal taking a more “normal” shower. Plus, I knew I wouldn’t have to spend time blow drying my appliance when I got out since I was putting a fresh one on immediately anyway.

As a side note, I showered in the morning before consuming any liquids or food to avoid increased output.

Learning to live with an ostomy bag

I guess the point of me writing about this is to show anyone who has an ostomy that these things take time. Even though I know it is difficult, especially with social media, not to compare yourself to other people in your shoes, please try to remember that everyone has walked a different path. Everyone has insecurities; we all just handle them differently. You are right where you should be, acting the way you should be with your ostomy and disease. Despite the fact that it is lifesaving for many (me included!) it can be difficult to live with; both physically and emotionally.

Give yourself a break and remember that things will happen in their own time.

The rash that started it all:

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