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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 like you about issues like pouch leakage, ostomy pouch odors, and more. For the first common issue in our series, we’re addressing a question frequently asked by both new and experienced ostomates. What do I do if my ostomy bag smells?

My ostomy pouch smells! What do I do?

This is a big issue, and we can 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 from your ostomy.

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, a helpful tip to get started with ostomy odor control is to check the seal. It’s important to check how well your current urostomy bag, ileostomy bag, or colostomy bag stays 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.

stomahesive protective powder can help form a protective barrier for weepy skinSo how do you fix a leaking 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 of 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 stoma bag.

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.

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 won’t deodorize your stool or urine; they will only mask ostomy smells. Plus, it may not be safe and risks damaging your skin, stoma, or pouching system.

Instead of trying to mask odors, why not try a safe deodorizing product for ostomy odor control? When it comes to finding options for eliminating odor in colostomy bags, you have plenty of product options. For example, you can choose ostomy products like deodorizing pouch drops, deodorizing tablets, and deodorizing gel sachets that control odors inside each urostomy, ileostomy, or colostomy bag.

The new ESENTA™ Lubricating Deodorant stops smells where they start. Just spray inside your ostomy pouch to start feeling fresh and confident.

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 covered by most insurance plans. If you are interested in trying an ostomy deodorant, please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us.”

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 urostomy, ileostomy, or colostomy bag before it starts to leak and let out noticeable smells.

Regularly changing or emptying your pouch will reduce the 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.

Tip 4. Evaluate your diet.

Next, let’s talk about an easy lifestyle change that may help ostomy odor control. 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 complete list of foods and their effects on an ostomy here, courtesy of the United Ostomy Associations of America.

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 — 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 an 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 preferences while helping you navigate your product options. We even offer free ostomy samples.

elisa ostomy product specialist

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
Common Ostomy Issues: “My Ostomy Pouch Smells”
Jessica is the Sr. Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical, and she has been with the company for over 14 years now. She loves getting to be creative in her role and hearing from customers about the positive impact we've made on their lives.

Outside of work, you can find her hanging out with her husband and their dogs or browsing garden centers (where she will almost certainly buy another houseplant she doesn't really need).