It’s probably one of the biggest fears for new (and old) ostomates and people prior to having ostomy surgery – the smell factor. The fact is, we all poo and it all smells, but ostomy output can smell pretty strongly and as we have to empty them more frequently there is more chance you will have to do it in a public toilet or at someone else’s house.
Firstly, the bag itself does not smell. You can not smell anything, so you are not going to put people off you just by sitting next to them. The bags work well and everything is enclosed so it just doesn’t happen.
WHAT YOU EAT
Onto the output. One way of controlling smells is by watching what you eat. This sheet gives you an idea of things that can be odour producing. Fish is by far the worst for me, I love it but only eat it sporadically when I know I can deal with the output I am going to get. You may find other things that cause unpleasant smalls but this is a great base to start from. Keeping a food diary if you are worried about the smell is a great way to see which, if any of these cause you a particular problem. Remember, what works for one doesn’t work for all but I haven’t found another ostomate so far who doesn’t suffer from fish!
PRODUCTS TO HELP
There are certain products available from your stoma product suppliers which may help. I have been sampling a few to find out what I think are the best so I could share my views on them with you. Everyone is different and some things can help some and not others but this will hopefully give you an idea of what is out there to try.
These are available from Respond. I had a sample of the drops not long after getting my ostomy and I must say, the tangerine ones are excellent. I did find that I used them up quite quickly as I tended to put more than the suggested one or two drops in my bag but I was a newbie and worrying about smell so much at the time so I just wanted it to work. I did like the spray but found it wasn’t quite as effective at neutralising the odour, however I have a friend who swears by it. Many GP’s are trying to cut costs at the moment and products like this are often being cut from prescriptions. You can talk to your GP or your stoma nurse if you believe it is a vital product for you to use, but they can also be bought from the website and aren’t overly expensive.
Both of these are available in a variety of fragrances and you can order samples to try, just click the links below
This is advertised as one of the best and many ostomates use it. It worked alright for me but wasn’t as good as some of the other things I tried. I also found it quite expensive so if you can’t get it on prescription that may be something to bear in mind. This is another one where you put a drop or two in your pouch every time you empty.
Order a sample here
Buy Na’Scent here
Brava Lubricating Deodorant
I found this to be a great lubricant and helped make sure when my output was thicker, it didn’t clog up around my stoma. However, it made no difference to the smell unfortunately. I would definitely recommend this if you are having issues with pancaking but not one I would use to help with small.
Order your sample/products here
This worked really well for me and I have continued to order since first receiving some samples. You use the product by spraying it into the toilet before you empty your bag and it has definitely been one of the top performers for me. It comes in a range of smells and I don’t dislike any of them but my favourites are the Rose Bloom and the citrus based ones. They also have a range of sizes which is great as I use the small ones to take out and about in my bag and the larger ones in my bathrooms at home. There are a couple of similar products out there now but this is a lovely, family based company who also put a lot of work into raising awareness of the conditions that people that use their product suffer with, so I think it is a great one to receive my custom. The people that make the product have always been friendly and helpful when I have contacted them, and the oils they use are completely natural and not tested on animals. Visit the site by clicking the link below
‘Old Ostomates Tales’
Forget the old wives, there are also a number of ideas that are often talked about in the ostomy communities, that people have found work for them.
Don’t shake your tic-tacs, put them in your bag instead. The amount of people I have seen suggesting this and saying it works for them is unbelievable but… it does nothing for me! I am not sure if a different flavour works better (I just used the mint ones) but found it made no difference whatsoever.
This isn’t one I have tried but my mum was recently put on them and she said it made her trumps and poo smell of mint (sorry Mum!). If it works for someone with all their bowel, it is surely going to work for me who has less than half a bowel connected to my bag! Will definitely be trying them and I will let you know!
I generally use the Febreeze or Oust ones but they don’t really do a lot for the smell. It lasts for about ten seconds and then you can smell it again or it just mingles in so you smell it all mixed together.
Flushing The Toilet
This was a tip I heard from Lauren (founder of Purple Wings) and it is one of the easiest and best ones you can do. I tend to use the Happy Flush then empty my bag, flush, clean the end of my bag and flush again. This has been the best combination I have tried. Getting rid of the cause quickly is key!
Lighting A Match
I have heard this works but haven’t got round to trying it yet. I am not so scientifically minded to be able to explain how, but I am inclined to believe it helps at least. Has anyone tried this? Let me know in the comments!
It has been fun testing out all the products, even if they haven’t worked. My top three would have to be the Respond OstoMIST drops, Happy Flush and flushing quickly and I will continue to use all three.
Like I said at the start, everyone poos and nobody’s smells like roses so you shouldn’t feel awkward because of it. I do tend to use a disabled toilet when out to empty my bag in a public bathroom, as I feel more comfortable than in a stall with someone else in the cubicle next to me. I got my radar key with my first stoma supplies delivery but you can get them from charities like CCUK along with the Can’t Wait cards. Please don’t allow the worry of smell to cause you to not enjoy your life getting out and about. It can be nerve wracking at first, but finding something that works for you and with time and trying things being the best things for confidence, it will get easier.
I hope these ideas will have given you some tips and ideas to try, if I have missed anything from my list please let me know in the comments below, or let me know what works for you.
Rachel AKA Rocking 2 Stomas and a great friend of mine, also wrote a post about coping with the smell from a urostomy. Check it out by clicking here