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Dear Sam, I’m worried about unpleasant odours coming from my stoma bag…

We receive a lot of questions from ostomates. Rather than answer them all at once, we decided to start a new series of blog posts called ‘Dear Sam’, where some of the questions we receive most commonly will be answered by our dedicated Stoma Nurse, Sam Robertson Greenwood.

This is one of the biggest worries for patients about to undergo surgery and for new ostomates. 

All modern appliances are made of odour-proof materials and patients should not expect there to be any odour from the bag whilst it’s being worn. There will, of course, be some odour when the bag is changed or emptied. A normal bathroom air freshener can help with this. Any odour experienced whilst the bag is being worn usually signifies leakage from the bag or that the filter has become ineffective.

The filters on appliances vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and are all slightly different. I would encourage all ostomates to try different appliances to see which ones suit them best as the filters do vary so much. Some filters require covering with a little ‘sticker’ before swimming, showering or bathing, to prevent the filter from becoming wet and rendering it ineffective. Others are covered with a water-repellent membrane to prevent this, so do not have to be covered for bathing. All Oakmed products are designed to be water-resistant and prevent the filter from becoming wet.

If the stoma output is very loose it can soak into the filter and cause the filter to become in-effective – this is a common cause of odour from a pouch and ostomates often tell me that the pouch is fine for the first day of wear but not so great on the second. When the output is loose lying down can cause the contents of the pouch to move up to the filter area and soak in overnight. Speak to your stoma nurse if this happens, she will be able to give advice on how to thicken your stools through diet or provide you with some absorbent powders or granules to add to your pouch to prevent this happening. Get additional information on how your diet can affect your stoma output in our Ostomates Nutrition Guide.

Some ostomates like to put deodorising granules, drops or sprays into their pouch and many have found that a few drops of peppermint oil into the pouch works wonders. Gel X capsules or tablets are a good choice. Others find that adjusting their diet can help, with buttermilk, natural yoghurt, parsley and peppermint capsules all reported to help.”

For more advice and guidance on matters concerning your stoma, please feel free to contact us on 0800 592 786 or email

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