Traveling with an ostomy

Your colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy shouldn't prevent you from traveling.   But when it comes to traveling with an ostomy, it’s nice to feel secure and comfortable while also keeping the surprises to a minimum.  During times when you travel, you may have to leave your regular routine behind, which means you might need to make some extra preparations to enjoy your journey and your stay!

Products for worry-free travel

Brava® Elastic Barrier Strips - 3 unique shapes to fit your barrier.

Do you often find yourself checking your pouch to make sure it's secure? You're not the only one.  That's why we created Brava Elastic Barrier Strips - they're designed to support the outer edge of your ostomy barrier, keeping it smooth against your skin so it doesn't lift or roll up.  We have 3 unique shapes for a customized fit!

Helpful tips for travel with an ostomy

applying barrier Warm climate and sunscreen affects the adhesive Warm climates and sunscreen can affect the way the pouch adheres to your body, but help is here - there are a few things you can do to make the barrier stick better. Tips and tricks for good adhesion
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Tips and tricks for good adhesion

Warm climate

If the climate is warm or humid enough to make you perspire more than usual, the barrier may not stick very well and you may need to change your pouch more frequently.

Make sure your skin is completely dry before you apply a new barrier. It can be a bit tricky if the weather is very hot and humid – if drying your skin is difficult, you can use a hairdryer on low heat to dry the area (but be careful that it does not get too hot, and keep it away from the stoma itself).

Sun lotion

Apply sunscreen after you put on your barrier, as the lotion could affect the barrier and make it harder to stick.

Storage

We recommend that your supplies are stored in a cool place.  For example, do not leave your ostomy products in the car for long periods of time during hot weather, since the heat may damage the product's ability to stick to your skin.

Talk to your WOC nurse – and get the products you need

When spending time in a warmer climate you might need a few more products than usual.  A Brava® Protective Sheet may be used underneath the barrier if your skin is very, very moist - to help protect the skin from leakage and absorb the excess moisture from the skin. If the edges are not sticking properly, the Brava® Elastic Barrier Strips might be a good solution.  The strips secure the position of your barrier and are elastic so they follow your body shape and movements.  They also absorb moisture, so they can manage the sweat you produce in a warm climate! The strips secure the position of your barrier and is elastic so it follows your body shape and movements.

It is always a good idea to talk to your WOC nurse before going on a trip if you have any questions or if it is your first time traveling after surgery.  You are also welcome to contact one of our Care Advisors at 1-888-726-7872. 

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Swimming with an ostomy What to think about when swimming Going swimming can be a big deal for someone with an ostomy, but don't let that hold you back. We can help answer your questions about what to wear and how to ensure your barrier will stick. Read a few tips here.
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Tips for beach wear and swimming

Whether you're vacationing at the beach or in a warm destination near a pool, the most important thing to remember is that water can affect the adhesion of your barrier.

Swimming

The main thing you want to remember is to be sure that the barrier sticks properly before going in the water.  You may want to wait a little while after applying to be sure it’s sticking well. Be aware that the water can affect your barrier's adhesion to your skin, so make sure to bring extra product in case you need to change it more frequently than usual.  Many people with an ostomy use additional accessories when going swimming.  The Brava®  Skin Barrier reduces skin problems associated with leakage and adhesives without affecting the adhesion of the baseplate. If the edges are not sticking properly, the Brava® Elastic Barrier Strips might be a good solution.  It secures the position of the baseplate and is elastic so it follows your body shape and movements.

What should you wear at a vacation near the beach?

It is most important wear something that makes you feel comfortable. Some people do not mind showing their barrier and others prefer covering up. Unfortunately, buying specialty swimwear is no guarantee of good fit. On the other hand, you might be able to find regular swimwear that fits your need perfectly. 

On the beach, a sarong or wrap can be a great way to gracefully cover up your barrier without feeling out of place.

It is always a good idea to talk to your WOC nurse before going on a vacation near the water to answer any questions. You are also welcome to contact one of our Care Advisors at 1-888-726-7872. 

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screen with flight overview Traveling by plane with an ostomy Our travel tips will help you understand what to anticipate when you go through security, and will help answer questions about how cabin pressure can impact your ostomy pouch. Read our tips here.
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Tips for flying

Before you go

When booking your ticket, you may want to select an aisle seat near the restrooms to alleviate some of your concerns.

TSA now allows scissors inside your carry-on for domestic flights within the US, but if you're traveling internationally the rules often differ. For travel abroad, try to pre-cut your barriers before you leave and/or pack scissors in your checked luggage only.  

Regardless of how or where you're traveling, you may find that it's easier to plan ahead and cut all of your barriers to the right size before you leave home. And it's good to be prepared - bring 2-3 times the number of pouches / barriers you think you may need - preferably in your carry-on luggage in case your luggage gets separated from you, as you never know what may happen and whether you'll be able to get supplies at your destination!

Going through security

The security scanner might detect your pouch, however, you should not have to show your pouch even if it's empty. You do not have to show your pouch, and security should not ask you to remove clothing to expose it or let them touch it.  You may be asked to rub your hand against the pouch on the outside of your clothes, but that should be the extent of the examination. 

You can always show them a Travel Communication Card like the provided by the United Ostomy Associations of America, which is designed to simplify communication about your medical needs in a discreet way.  You can also review the security screening guidelines and carry-on rules laid out by the Transportation Security Association (TSA)  at https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening).

For more ostomy-specific travel tips and security information, check out the UOAA's tip sheet and additional resources here: http://www.ostomy.org/Ostomy_Travel_Tips.html. 

In the air

There is a slight risk that the pressure will cause the pouch to inflate like a balloon. If this should happen, simply go into the bathroom and empty your pouch. Remember that ballooning is often caused by something you ate or drank - so when you're flying, be extra careful with carbonated beverages.

If you have other concerns before flying, it is always a good idea to talk to your ostomy nurse to answer any questions before you leave town. You are also welcome to contact one of our Care Advisors at 1-888-726-7872. 

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people sitting in the shade Seek shade Staying in the shade is an effective way to reduce sun exposure - especially between 10AM and 4PM when the sun is at the highest point. Shade and UV radiation
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Shade and UV radiation

References

http://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/preventing-skin-cancer/

Did you know that skin can burn in just 15 minutes in the summer sun?

Staying in the shade is an effective way to reduce sun exposure. You can use trees or built shade structures, or bring your own umbrella to the park, beach, etc.!

Whatever you use for shade, make sure it casts a dark shadow. Though being in the shade it is still recommended that you use other protection - such as clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.

 

These guidelines are not exhaustive and you should always seek advice and guidance from professional if you have any doubts.

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woman bathing with an ostomy Use sunscreen If you want to safely spend time by the beach, in the garden or at the pool it's a good idea to first spend time buying and applying sunscreen. What you need to know about sunscreen
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What you need to know about sunscreen

References

http://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/preventing-skin-cancer/http://www.cancer.org/research/infographicgallery/skin-cancer-prevention

What you need to know about sunscreen

  • Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF 30+ (or higher) – SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays.
  • Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors.
  • Apply every two hours afterwards.
  • Apply sunscreen liberally – at least a teaspoon for each limb, front and back of the body and half a teaspoon for the face, neck and ears.
  • Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen resulting in only 50-80% of the protection stated on the product.
  • Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.

What does SPF and water resistant mean?

  • SPF means sun protenction factor and is a measure of how well it protects the skin from sunburn. A 30 SPF sunscreen would provide 30 times the protection of no sunscreen. Sunscreens need to be applied liberally to achieve the SPF protection claimed on the label.
  • Water resistant means that it does not come off the skin during swimming or exercise, provided it is not wiped off. The FDA defines water resistant sunscreen as meaning that the SPF level stays effective after 40 minutes in the water. While a label may state a sunscreen is '4 hours water resistant', sunscreen still needs to be applied every two hours to maintain the same level of protection and if you are taking a dip regularly you also need to reapply.

 

These guidelines are not exhaustive and you should always seek advice and guidance from professional if you have any doubts.

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man running on a bridge Wear a hat and sunglasses A hat protects areas that are exposed to intense sun, and sunglasses are important for protecting the skin around the eyes, and the eyes themselves. Read what hat and sunglasses are ideal
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Read what hat and sunglasses are ideal

References

http://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/preventing-skin-cancer/http://www.cancer.org/research/infographicgallery/skin-cancer-prevention

What to think about when choosing your new hat?

How do you know that your sunglasses are UV-blocking?

UV-blocking sunglasses are important for protecting the delicate skin around the eyes, as well as the eyes themselves, so here are a few tips before buying new ones.

  • The ideal sunglasses should block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
  • There will most likely be a label on the glasses stating they protect against UV rays – if in doubt ask an optician.*
  • Darker glasses are not necessarily better because UV protection comes from an invisible chemical in or applied to the lenses, not from the color or darkness of the lenses. 
  • Sunglasses should be worn outside during daylight hours.
  • Sunglasses are as important for children as they are for adults. 

 

*The standards may differentiate from country to country why you should check up on local recommendations before you go.

 

These guidelines are not exhaustive and you should always seek advice and guidance from professional if you have any doubts.

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Disclaimer

These are general guidelines meant to help you with typical questions. You should follow the specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider.

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