Colostomy: A Guide

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Changing the pouching system

There may be less bowel activity at certain times in the day. It is easiest to change the pouching system during these times. You may find that early morning before you eat or drink is best.


You don't have to use sterile supplies. For instance, facial tissue or cotton balls can be used in place of gauze pads. The stoma and nearby skin are clean but not sterile.

Factors that affect the pouching system seal

The length of time a pouch will stay sealed to the skin depends on many things, such as the weather, skin condition, scars, weight changes, diet, activity, body shape near the stoma, and the nature of the colostomy output.

  • Sweating during the summer months in warm humid climates will shorten the number of days you can wear the pouching system. Body heat, added to outside temperature, will cause skin barriers to loosen more quickly than usual.
  • Moist, oily skin may reduce wearing time.
  • Weight changes will also affect how long you can wear a pouch. Weight gained or lost after colostomy surgery can change the shape of your abdomen. You may need an entirely different system.
  • Diet may affect your seal. Foods that cause watery output are more likely to break a seal than a thicker discharge.
  • Physical activities may affect wearing time. Swimming, very strenuous sports, or anything that makes you sweat may shorten wearing time.

Last Medical Review: 03/17/2011
Last Revised: 03/17/2011