Common Ostomy Issues: “My Ostomy Pouch Smells”

common ostomy issues my ostomy pouch smells

Do you have questions about living with a colostomy, ileostomy, or urostomy? At 180 Medical, we often receive questions from ostomates just like you about issues like pouch leakage, ostomy pouch smells and odors, how to care for peristomal skin, and more. That’s why we’re creating a series called Common Ostomy Issues. In this series, we’ll focus on each issue and offer some solutions to help you live a full and healthy life with an ostomy.

For the first common issue in our series, we’re addressing a question frequently asked by both new and experienced ostomates.

My ostomy pouch smells! What do I do?

This is a big issue, and we can definitely understand why. Of course you don’t want to smell your body waste throughout the day. Plus, you certainly don’t want others to notice any odors coming from your ostomy either.

Luckily, you don’t have to worry too much as long as you have a well-fitting, properly-sealed ostomy pouching system. With the right ostomy supplies, you should only notice odors when changing out or draining your pouching system.

However, if you’re noticing some offensive smells more frequently, it’s time to find the potential cause. Then together, we can find a solution!

Tip 1: Make sure your ostomy pouch isn’t leaking.

First, it’s important to check how well your current urostomy, ileostomy, or colostomy bag is staying sealed to your peristomal skin (the skin directly around your stoma). When the skin barrier isn’t properly adhered to the skin to create a seal, your ostomy can leak odor, gas, and even stool or urine under the barrier.

So how do you fix a leaky ostomy pouch? First, when you apply your skin barrier, make sure your peristomal skin is clean, dry, and shaved (if you have body hair). Don’t use any oily lotions or strong soaps around the stoma, which may irritate your skin and interfere with the adhesive properties in your pouching system.

If the skin surrounding your stoma is weepy or raw, you may need an ostomy product that can assist in reducing and preventing irritation.

For example, Stomahesive Protective Ostomy Powder is a specialized ostomy powder, which works by absorbing moisture to create a protective barrier. This may help maintain your skin’s health while increasing the wear time of your ostomy pouch.

Ultimately, you just want to make sure that there are no issues standing in the way of the adhesive properties of your ostomy pouching system. You can learn more with our detailed ostomy application instructions.

right ostomy products for your needs

Tip 2: Deodorize ostomy smells safely.

When you’re dealing with a smelly ostomy pouch, it can be tempting to spray some perfume or cologne or use fragrance oils inside the ostomy pouch. However, quick fixes like this won’t deodorize your stool or urine; it will only mask ostomy smells. Plus, it may not be safe and carries risks of damaging your skin, stoma, or pouching system.

Instead of trying to mask odors, why not try a safe deodorizing product that’s made for ostomies? For example, you can choose from ostomy products like deodorizing pouch drops, deodorizing tablets, and deodorizing gel sachets that control odors inside each urostomy, ileostomy, or colostomy bag.

Also, consider using a high-quality ostomy pouch with an enhanced charcoal filter, such as the Natura+ Drainable or Closed Two-Piece Ostomy Pouches or the new Esteem + line of ostomy pouches.

“The enhanced charcoal filter absorbs odor while allowing air to escape from the pouch,” says Michael, Ostomy Team Supervisor at 180 Medical. “This also prevents the pouch from ballooning.” Michael adds, “180 Medical offers effective ostomy deodorizing products that are covered by most insurance plans. If you are interested in trying an ostomy deodorant, please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us.”

deodorizing ostomy filter

Tip 3. Regularly empty your ostomy pouch.

Even the highest quality ostomy supplies will still need you to pitch in and help them perform at their best to control odors. Optimal odor control starts with regularly emptying or changing your pouch before it starts to leak and let out noticeable smells.

Regularly changing or emptying your pouch will reduce the amount of time your stoma output is sitting in your ostomy bag. Plus, emptying your pouch when it’s about 1/3 to 1/2 full helps reduce pressure on your ostomy pouch’s seal around your stoma. An ostomy bag that’s too heavy with output can loosen that seal, which may cause odor and leakage.

Talk to your doctor or a WOCN (Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurse) regarding your personal changing and emptying times.

when should i empty my ostomy pouch

Tip 4. Evaluate your diet.

Next, let’s talk about an easy lifestyle change that may affect whether or not your ostomy smells strongly. Some foods and beverages can create more gas or cause a stronger odor in your urine or stool output.

Foods and beverages that may affect ostomy smells or increase gas include:

  • Alcohol
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Sugary foods and drinks
  • Asparagus
  • Eggs
  • Coffee
  • Cheese
  • Fried foods

You may also want to know about some foods, beverages, and dietary changes that may potentially reduce odors.

Some dietary changes that may help reduce gas and odor include:

  • Drinking cranberry juice
  • Eating fresh fruits and certain vegetables
  • Eating yogurt or taking probiotics
  • Drinking enough water daily

Before changing your diet or trying a new supplement, get your doctor’s professional opinion on what is right for you based on your surgery type and unique anatomy.

You can find a more complete list of foods and their effects on an ostomy here, courtesy of the United Ostomy Associations of America.

stay hydrated to reduce ostomy odors

Tip 5. Get the best ostomy supplies for your needs.

When it comes to ostomy supplies, they are most definitely not a one-size-fits-all option. Not only is everyone’s body different, but each and every stoma is unique too — just like you! Stomas come in different sizes, shapes, and even lengths.

That’s why not just any ostomy supplies company will do. You need a ostomy supplies company like 180 Medical that specializes in insurance-covered ostomy supplies. Our staff of highly-trained Ostomy Specialists will listen to your needs and preference while helping you navigate your product options. We even offer free ostomy samples.

elisa ostomy specialist quote about ostomy odors

Are you ready to quit worrying about your ostomy and start living your best life? Contact 180 Medical today to get started.

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About the Author
Jessica is a Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical, and she's been a part of the 180 family for over 11 years. Her favorite part of working at 180 Medical is our commitment to values of compassion and integrity and the positive impact we help make on peoples' lives.

She is passionate about creating art and writing. She also loves gardening, collecting houseplants, cooking, Peloton cycling, and spending quality time with her fiancé and their 3 dogs.