In the U.S., more than 750,000 people are living with stomas. If you've recently had ostomy surgery, you might be feeling overwhelmed. Just know that you're not alone.
Your stoma nurse will guide you through the process, but learning to live with a stoma takes some getting used to. You'll need to learn proper maintenance and how to use an ostomy bag.
But, every ostomate has a unique experience. What works for someone else might not work for you.
That's why it's so important to know about other products like stoma caps. Read on to learn about stoma caps and if they're right for your lifestyle.
What is a Stoma Cap?
A stoma cap is like a small ostomy bag. They're designed to cover your stoma for a short time. Since they're small, they don't have the capacity of a normal ostomy bag.
Stoma covers are about the size of your palm. They can be round or square-shaped and are generally 4 inches across.
When to Use a Stoma Cap
Because they're small, stoma caps are meant for times when you don't need or want a regular ostomy bag. Many people like them because they protect your stoma but give you a moment of freedom from your ostomy bag.
Many people use caps when they take showers or baths. You might have a more relaxing experience since you won't have to contend with a regular bag.
Caps are also useful during exercise because they're less bulky. They're especially helpful during aerobic activities like swimming, running, or biking. Some ostomates are also able to use a cap during intimate moments.
Who Can Use a Stoma Cap?
Unfortunately, not every ostomate can use a stoma cap. Stoma caps are best used by those with predictable output or relatively inactive stomas.
Stoma caps may work for people who irrigate (flush out their colon with water) because they have more predictable bowel movements. Caps are also an option for people who have continent ostomies.
If you're not sure if you can use a stoma cap, ask your stoma nurse. They have expertise in stoma care and can help you decide what's best.
Types of Stoma Caps
There are four basic types of covers. All four types protect the stoma, but each type has a unique benefit. It all depends on your lifestyle and the comfort you're looking for.
Each type of cap has a small pad inside that helps absorb liquid.
Most cap types also have filters that release gas and prevent odors. These filters are made from either charcoal or activated carbon.
But, caps with filters are not automatically waterproof. That's why they always come with filter covers. The filter covers look like small round or square band-aids. Simply peel one off and place it over the filter and your stoma cap will be waterproof.
1. Cut-to-Fit Caps
Cut-to-fit caps are useful for people with stomas that change shape and size.
These caps have a small pouch and a round adhesive backing that you can cut to fit your stoma. You can cut the adhesive to the right size with a regular pair of scissors.
Because you can tailor each cap to fit your stoma, you can prevent leaks and painful skin irritation. You also won't have to order new cap sizes all the time, which will save you money on medical supplies.
2. Two-Piece Caps
This type of cap comes in two pieces: the stoma cap and the barrier. The stoma cap pouch clicks onto a barrier on your skin.
First, you'll need to put on an ostomy barrier (also called a wafer). They look like square bandages with a hard plastic ring that sits around your stoma.
To install or change the cap, you clip it onto the wafer. Once you hear the click, you'll know that the cap is securely installed.
If you're used to wearing a two-piece ostomy bag, this type might be the best choice. Plus, if you have sensitive skin, a two-piece stoma cap is helpful. You don't change the wafer every time, so it will cut down on skin irritation.
3. One-Piece Caps
This type of cap has a wafer already connected to the pouch, which makes it a one-piece system. It sticks to the skin with a pre-cut adhesive wafer. These caps generally hold about 50 milliliters of output.
On the back of the pouch is the pre-cut wafer that sticks to the skin. Hydrocolloid and acrylic are the most common types of adhesive.
A hydrocolloid stoma cap will be more water-tight and hypoallergenic than an acrylic one. If you plan to wear a stoma cap for swimming and you have sensitive skin, a hydrocolloid might be a better option.
One-piece caps have a more straightforward design and lay flatter than two-piece caps. But, the entire device has to be removed to change the cap, which can irritate the skin.
4. Patch-Style Caps
This cap style is more like a small pad or band-aid than a pouch.
Of all the stoma cap types, patch-style caps hold the least amount of output. They only hold about 25 milliliters.
It's safest to use this type of cap when your stoma is very inactive. They're best used for concise periods, like when you're taking a quick bath or shower.
They are also helpful if you want a few minutes of freedom before you install a new ostomy bag.
Living with an Ostomy
Learning to care for your stoma can be a challenge. It might take some trial and error to learn what works for you.
Luckily, your stoma nurse, other medical professionals, and fellow ostomates can help. You'll be able to live a healthy lifestyle with the right support and medical products.
We believe the right medical supplies can enhance your life, so we'd be happy to answer any product questions you have. If you'd like to learn more about the brands of stoma caps we carry, contact us today.