Colostomy: Answers to Common Questions

You have been told you need a colostomy. Or you have recently been given one. Below are answers to some questions you are likely to have. Learning as much as you can about your colostomy can help you adjust.

Man talking to health care provider about a colostomy.

Can I take my regular medications when I have colostomy?

A colostomy could affect the way they act in the body. Talk to your health care provider about any medications you take.

Where do I buy pouches and skin care products?

Supplies can be bought through medical supply companies, some drugstores, and special catalogs. Be sure you know the maker and product number of the supplies you use. And order new supplies well before you run out.

How can I know whether a product will irritate my skin?

If you have had a skin reaction before, you may want to “patch test” a product. Apply a small amount (or a small piece of product) on your belly, away from the stoma. Remove it after 48 hours. If the skin isn’t red or sore, the product is okay to use. Know that you can develop an allergy to a product over time. If you start having a reaction to a product, stop using it. Then, call your wound, ostomy, and continence (WOC) nurse for advice.

Why do I still sometimes feel as if I’m going to have a bowel movement through the rectum?

This is called “phantom rectum.” The feeling is common. It may occur because nerves that were cut during surgery still send messages to the brain. The feeling may go away when you’ve healed from the surgery.

Where can I get more information?

Your  WOC nurse is there to answer your questions. So are your surgeon and other health care providers. Contacting the sources listed below is a good way to learn more:

  • United Ostomy Associations of America

  • American Cancer Society

  • Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Society