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How to reduce stoma odour

Don’t know how to reduce stoma odour? We’re here to help.

While some odour is normal, there are several things you can do to reduce odour and enhance overall wellbeing. Managing stoma odour involves good stoma care, choosing suitable stoma products, making dietary adjustments and maintaining good overall health.

It can take some trial and error to find the strategies that work best for you, perseverance and communication with your stoma care nurse will go a long way in minimising stoma odour and improving your quality of life.

Remember that individual experiences can vary, so it’s important to tailor these strategies to suit your unique needs and preferences.

Why do ostomates get odour with their stoma?

Stoma odour is primarily caused by the interaction between the contents of the stoma and bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Foods with strong odours, certain medications, and the type of ostomy can also influence the intensity of odour.

However, with the right approach, it’s possible to manage and minimise stoma odour.

How to reduce stoma odour

Take care of your stoma

Maintaining a good stoma hygiene regime is key to managing stoma odour. Make sure you clean the stoma and surrounding skin with water during each pouch change.

Try not to use soap, as it can dry and irritate the skin. However, if you feel you need to, then use a very mild soap or stand under the shower and let the soapy water run over your stoma and surrounding skin.

Gently pat the area dry with a dry wipe to prevent moisture buildup, which can contribute to odour.

Use lukewarm water instead of hot water, as excessive heat can increase blood flow and potentially intensify odour.

Choosing the right stoma products

Selecting the appropriate stoma products can play a significant role in reducing stoma odour.

Consider these options:
Closed or drainable pouches:
Closed pouches are sealed and disposed of when full, minimizing exposure to odours. Drainable pouches allow you to empty contents without changing the pouch, reducing the frequency of pouch changes.
Pouch deodorants: These are available in various forms, such as drops or tablets, and can be placed inside the pouch to neutralise odour.
Charcoal filters: Some pouches come with built-in charcoal filters that help absorb and neutralize odours, allowing gas to escape while preventing odours from exiting the pouch.

Monitor your diet

Certain foods can contribute to stronger odours from the stoma. While dietary restrictions should be discussed with a healthcare professional, consider these tips:

  • Try to avoid foods with strong odours, such as garlic, onions, and spicy foods.
  • Chew your food thoroughly to aid digestion and reduce the likelihood of undigested particles causing odour.
  • Stay hydrated to maintain healthy digestion and minimise odour-causing compounds.

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all stoma diet, some individuals find relief by adhering to a low-residue diet, which focuses on easily digestible foods that produce fewer odour-causing waste products.

Consult a dietitian or your stoma care nurse before making any significant dietary changes.

Accessories to help reduce stoma odour

Several products are designed to specifically address stoma odour. These include:

Deodorising drops or sprays: Applied directly to the pouch or stoma, these products neutralise odours and leave a pleasant scent.
Ostomy wraps or covers: These accessories provide additional security and discretion while helping contain odours.
Ostomy odour-absorbing gels: These gels can be placed inside the pouch to help control odours.

Keep hydrated

Drinking enough water is crucial for maintaining digestive health and minimizing stoma odour. Adequate hydration helps ensure smooth digestion, reducing the likelihood of undigested particles causing strong odours.

Review your medications

Certain medications can contribute to increased stoma odour. If you suspect a specific medication is intensifying odour, discuss alternatives or adjustments with your healthcare provider.

Exercise and physical activity

Regular exercise promotes healthy digestion and overall well-being. Staying active can help maintain regular bowel movements, reducing the buildup of odour-causing waste.

Find support

Dealing with stoma odour can have emotional and psychological impact. If you are struggling, seek support from your stoma care nurse who will be able to help you with ways of managing your odour. Alternatively you could try the stoma support groups. There is also plenty of helpful information available in our handy stoma advice centre.

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