How can I stop my colostomy bag from smelling? | Cancer Research UK
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How can I stop my colostomy bag from smelling?

This page gives some of the reasons why a colostomy bag may smell and has suggestions about what you can do. There is information about


Types of colostomy bag

There are many different types of colostomy bag. Different ones suit different people. So you might have to try a few before you find the one that suits you best. Some have charcoal filters built into them. Charcoal is good for absorbing smells and the filter lets gas escape from the bag so that it does not become too full and uncomfortable. If the bag fits properly you should only be aware of the smell when you are changing or emptying the bag.

Stomas are different shapes and sizes. So, some bags may not fit you and others will. If the bag does not fit properly you are likely to have problems with smell and possibly leakage. You could get in touch with a stoma nurse at your hospital. Specialist stoma nurses can get different types of bags for you to try. And they will help you fit them. If you don't have a stoma nurse, ask your GP or surgeon to refer you.


Your diet

Some foods are particularly likely to cause a smell. You could try reducing or cutting out

  • Onions
  • Cabbage, sprouts and similar vegetables
  • Beans
  • Strongly spiced foods, or foods with a lot of garlic
  • Beer and other gassy drinks
  • Very rich or fatty foods

You may need to try out various foods to find which ones cause wind for you.


Anti odour products

There are products that can help to mask the smell from a colostomy. They are often liquids, and you use a few drops each time you change your bag. These are a last resort, because you shouldn't have this problem if at all possible. But some people have a lot of difficulty finding the perfect fit from a colostomy bag and these products can then help. You can ask your stoma nurse or the Colostomy Association to suggest products for you.


Where to get help

It can be very helpful to talk to other people who have colostomies. They will have tips they can pass on. And it can be very comforting to know others have similar problems. You can contact others through the Colostomy Association. They will also advise you on different colostomy bags and how to get them.

There is information about colostomy surgery, coping with a colostomy and diet after bowel cancer in the bowel cancer section.

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Updated: 16 September 2013