Can You Swim With an Ostomy?

There’s nothing like a refreshing swim or a dip in the water on a hot day. But if you have an ostomy, you might wonder if it’s safe to enter a pool or hot tub.

In addition, you might be worried about the thought of the seal failing or your pouch leaking.

That’s why people who have an ostomy often have the following questions:

  • Can you swim with an ostomy?
  • Can you go in a hot tub with an ostomy?

In fact, you can swim — and enjoy a good soak in a hot tub — if you have an ostomy. Getting the OK from your doctor is always a good idea, especially after surgery.

Your pouching system is waterproof and secure.

Before you jump in, there are a few things you should know about swimming with an ostomy.

Make Sure Your Flange Is Waterproof

The flange (skin barrier) attaches to the area around your stoma. The stoma is a surgical opening that connects your large intestine to the outside of your body.

The flange is a replaceable faceplate that adheres to the skin around your stoma. It has two functions- protecting your skin from output (stool) and holding the pouch in place. If you need to change your flange prior to swimming, it’s best to do it about 12 hours before to ensure optimal adhesion.

Usually, skin barriers are waterproof. But, if yours isn’t, you can add waterproof strips or a plastic cover while you swim. It may be helpful to apply the waterproof strips or cover at least an hour before you swim so they adhere properly. You can remove this extra adhesion security when you’re finished swimming.

Even if your barrier is waterproof, you can still add waterproof strips for additional peace of mind. You can also check with your ostomy nurse for advice.

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Before You Swim

If you want to test out your pouching system and skin barrier before you head into the pool, try it in the bathtub. If you’re nervous about how your swimsuit will contain the pouch, you can wear your suit at the same time. Testing things out ahead of time will make you feel more confident if you’re at the pool or beach.

If you’ll be swimming away from home, pack extra supplies in case you have a leak or need to change your pouch. If you’ll be at the pool or beach for a while, try to empty your pouch when it’s about one-third full.

While swimming shouldn’t require special equipment, high-intensity water sports are different. You might consider a stoma guard to protect your stoma if you’re boogie boarding or surfing.

A stoma guard is a firm protective covering that you wear over your stoma that adds an extra layer of protection to your stoma.

After You Swim

After you’re finished swimming, it’s a good idea to check your skin barrier to make sure you have a good seal because chlorine or saltwater may cause it to wear out faster. If you used special waterproof strips or a cover, you could remove them. Consider changing your pouching system a day or two before swimming, it helps to keep the seal strong.

Hot tubs have a higher chlorine level than most pools, so your flange might break down quicker. If you use a hot tub don’t be surprised if you might have to change your pouching system sooner.

Swim Confidently with an Ostomy

Swimming is great for your physical and emotional well-being. There’s no need to give up swimming or relaxing in a hot tub if you have an ostomy. Remember, the only one who will know you’re wearing it is you!

United Ostomy Association of America. Swimming Pool Discrimination: The Facts and Your Rights. LINK

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