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How Often to Change Colostomy Bag

Things become change completely once you have undergone colostomy surgery. Initially, it seems difficult to live on normal life with normal daily activities, but with the period, things become easier. Thanks to advancements in medical technology introducing the colostomy pouching system has transformed thousands of lives of ostomates. These bags serve as real heroes in the lives of ostomates. Be it temporary or permanent colostomy, an ostomy should have all the basic information about the colostomy pouching system. One of the key elements of a colostomy bag is knowing its wear time. In this article, we will discuss the factors that influence the changing frequency of colostomy bags. Moreover, some useful guidelines for worry-free changing routines will also be revealed.


Colostomy bags (OSTOMY BAGS) are reusable or disposal bags that are designed specifically to collect faeces that your body is unable to excrete through normal processes. Ostomy bags are attached to the stoma in your abdomen which is a surgically created opening in the abdomen that allows stool to exit the body. The colostomy bags can be emptied or changed as per your wish.


There are different recommendations from different manufacturers. Some manufacturers claim that their ostomy pouch can effectively function for a good seven days. After 7 days the plastic molecules of the ostomy bag break down and do not provide the protection effectively. On the other hand, some manufacturers recommend to change the ostomy bag after 4 days.


Wear time is the number of days between the changing ostomy pouches. Wear time varies from person to person. Some people prefer to change their ostomy bag daily to help them feel clean.

The frequency of colostomy bag changes can vary depending on several factors:

Type of stoma:

Wear time of colostomy bags greatly depends upon the type of stoma, whether it is ileostomy colostomy, or urostomy. Each type may have different output consistency and volume, affecting the frequency of bag changes. In ileostomy, there is liquid to pasty stool which excretes 4 to 6 times daily. More liquid stools and more frequent stoma output result in “melt-out “of the barrier which is the gradual erosion of the barrier component. So for ileostomy, more frequent changes are required. On the other hand, in colostomy, the output is more thicker and excretes less frequently as compared to ileostomy.

Related: Do Paraplegics Use Colostomy Bags?

Individual Circumstances:

Each individual may have unique circumstances, health conditions, and lifestyle considerations that affect how often they need to change their colostomy bag. A person’s overall health, diet, and level of physical activity can impact the frequency of waste output.

Skin condition:

If you have had a rash around your stoma some days before it will make the stoma weepy and moist. This moisture tends to break the seal more quickly. A good seal means a solid foundation for your ostomy bag. So your skin condition can affect the frequency of change.

Height of your stoma:

A protruding stoma facilitates a smoother passage of stool or urine into the pouch compared to one that is flush with the skin.

Creases and folds in your abdomen:

If there are significant changes in the shape of your abdomen during movement, it can impact how long your appliance remains effective. Likewise, prominent folds and uneven contours in your abdominal area, known as ‘challenging topography,’ can also influence the duration your appliance stays in place. Therefore, it is advisable to select an appropriate flange for your abdomen that increases the wear time.

Type of Ostomy supplies:

Usually, there are two types of barriers: regular and extended wear. Regular wear barriers are more prone to melt out and are less costly. Such barriers work well for patients who have colostomies with formed stools. On the other hand, extended wear barriers are less prone to melt out and have greater adhesion but they are slightly costly. Such types of barriers are ideal for people with ileostomies as they take a longer time to erode.

General Guidelines for Changing a Colostomy Bag

Frankly speaking, wear time may vary from person to person and it is greatly affected by the factors discussed above. However, here are some useful and helpful guidelines that can be followed:

Make a proper schedule

As per the recommendations of your health care professional, design a proper schedule for changing the colostomy. This will prevent any chances of leakage or discomfort.

Regularly monitor the output

Give keen consideration to your ostomy output. Check the amount and consistency of output. If you have observed any change in the output, might be, it’s a sign to change your bag.

Skin barrier

Typically, individuals change their skin barrier approximately every three to four days, which translates to around twice per week. However, everyone has their routine, so discover what schedule suits you optimally.

Prevent Odor and Leakage

To prevent the unpleasant odor or any leakage, it is recommended to change your colostomy bag as soon as it is overly full.

Signs That It’s Time to Change the Colostomy Bag

Usually, the wear time is 4 to 7 days, if everything is normal but still many people look for the signs that indicate them to change the ostomy bag instantly without any further wait. So here they are:

Full Bag

Every ostomy pouching system has some capacity, when the bag is nearing its capacity, it’s time for a change to prevent leaks and maintain comfort.


Since the bag carries stool if there is a persistent and strong odor from your bag then it’s a clear indication that your pouch needs to be changed to maintain good hygiene and odor control.

Skin Irritation

If the skin around the stoma becomes irritated, it may be due to leakage or prolonged use of the bag which means you should change your bag instantly.


To maintain optimal hygiene and a good quality of life, it is crucial to understand when should one change his ostomy bag. Factors such as type of stoma, type of ostomy supplies, and skin conditions should be considered for establishing a suitable routine for bag change. Furthermore, you can maintain your health and well-being by strictly adhering to the guidelines mentioned above. Always remember to consult your ostomy health care professional for any kind of personalized guidance about ostomy care.

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