How To Change A Stoma Bag

A variety of stoma bags

Table of Contents

Living with a stoma can be a significant change, but with the right knowledge and tools, managing your stoma and changing your bag can be a straightforward and hygienic process. We’ve provided a step-by-step instructions on changing a stoma bag, along with tips for skin care, troubleshooting common issues, and answers to frequently asked questions. We hope you find it useful. 

A variety of stoma bags

How Often to Change a Stoma Bag

  • Colostomy with a Closed Bag: Change after every bowel movement, typically 1 to 3 times daily.
  • Ileostomy with a Drainable Pouch: Empty as needed throughout the day; change the pouch every 2 to 3 days or as determined by the durability of the wafer.

Steps for Changing a Stoma Bag


  • Gather necessary items: unfragranced wet wipes, dry wipes, adhesive remover, a stoma bag, barrier products, and a disposal bag.
  • Pre-cut the wafer to fit or request pre-cut wafers from your supplier.


  • Wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Protect clothing with tissues around the waistband.
  • Peel the old stoma bag off slowly, starting at the top, using adhesive remover. Catch any spillage with tissues.


  • Clean the peristomal skin with warm water and dry wipes, or use wet wipes if not at home.
  • Dry the area gently to avoid skin irritation.

Barrier Application:

  • Apply barrier products like rings, sprays, or paste, first ensuring the skin is dry.

Applying New Bag:

  • Align the new bag with your stoma by folding the wafer, removing the backing and, starting from the bottom, gently pressing around your stoma site.
  • Roll the bag over the stoma, smoothing out the wafer to secure it without creases.

Disposal and Hygiene:

  • Dispose of used materials in a disposal bag.
  • Wash your hands after completing the process to maintain cleanliness.

Hand Washing Guide

Follow a thorough six-step hand-washing technique to ensure all areas are cleaned effectively, especially before and after handling your stoma care products. This routine helps prevent infections and maintains overall stoma health.

Tips for Skin Care

  • Avoid Skin Irritants: Use products designed for sensitive skin and free from alcohol and fragrances.
  • Check the Fit: Regularly check the size of the stoma opening on your bag, as the stoma size can change over time.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

  • Leakage: Ensure the bag fits properly and there are no creases or folds. If leaks continue, consult with a stoma nurse.
  • Skin Irritation: If you notice redness or soreness, review your cleaning routine and the products you use.


The frequency can vary depending on the type of stoma bag you use and your output. On average, a bag should be changed every 1 to 3 days.

Assess the fit of the bag, make sure you have applied it correctly, and consult with a stoma nurse if the problem persists.

Yes, you can have a shower or bath with your stoma bag off, as water will not harm your stoma.

Remember, everyone’s routine may vary slightly depending on their specific needs and type of stoma. It’s always best to follow the advice given by your healthcare provider. If you’re new to this, changing your stoma bag will become quicker and more routine with practice.

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Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Always follow the advice from your GP or healthcare professional