Does a Colostomy Bag Have an Odor?

 A properly fitted colostomy bag should often not emit any odour. There may be a few curable causes if you do detect a stench.

A stoma is a hole created in your abdominal wall to let faeces or pee through.

Your big intestines are joined to a pouch called a colostomy bag by a stoma that is referred to as a colostomy.

Many people are concerned that their colostomy bag will give out an unpleasant odour to those nearby.

The majority of pouches have a charcoal filter that lessens the stench of gas generated from your digestive system.

If you do detect an odour, it's frequently an indication that your colonoscopy bag is leaking or doesn't fit well.

Let's examine some of the potential causes of colostomy bag odour as well as some preventative measures.

Do colostomy bags smell?

To eliminate odours, filters with charcoal are used in all contemporary machines. The same as they can't smell the stool within other people's bodies, individuals standing next to you shouldn't be able to smell the stool inside your bag.

A leak between your skin and your bag happens frequently. The leak frequently occurs beneath the flange. The colostomy pouch's baseplate, or flange, is secured to your body with adhesive tape. In a one-piece arrangement, the flange is joined to the pouch and separated into a two-piece pouch.

Can people smell your colostomy bag?

There's a strong probability that others can't smell your colostomy bag, even if you think you can. The smell of one's own body usually attracts a person's attention more than the smell of the bodies of those around them.

If there is a leak or if you consume items that produce a lot of foul gas that can't be filtered, your pouch may release an odour that is audible to others.

What can cause a colostomy bag to smell?

Here are a few causes of odour production from colostomy bags.


One of the most frequent causes of colostomy bag odour is a leak. In the 2019 Ostomy Life Study, information was gathered through a self-reported questionnaire completed by more than 50,000 stoma patients in 17 different countries.

In the study, 76% of participants said they had at least monthly leaks under their baseplates and 65% said they had at least yearly leaks outside their baseplates or onto their garments.

Defective equipment

Products that are broken or past their expiration date might not offer a strong enough seal to stop leaks. Before utilising your products, be sure to verify the expiration date and adhere to the care instructions.


You may emit foul-smelling gas that hasn't been fully filtered after eating certain meals, like sulphurous vegetables. These veggies consist of:
  • leeks
  • shallows
  • onions
  • garlic
  • chives
  • Brussels sprouts
Other foods high in sulphur that could make your gas smell worse than usual include:
  • eggs
  • fish and meat
  • cheese
Since every person's physiology is unique, you might also get gas from some items that aren't on our list.

Foods that notably thicken your stools can lead to pancaking. When your pouch's interior adheres to itself and your stool doesn't settle to the bottom, this is called pancaking. This can prevent your filter from working properly or cause a leak that smells.

How do I keep my colostomy bag from smelling?

You might be able to avoid your colostomy bag smelling in the following ways:
  • Regularly replace your pouch, and don't overfill it. Depending on the sort of pouch you use, you may need to change it more frequently.
  • Ensure that your skin barrier is tightly fitting.
  • Try to keep your bag closed while engaging in physical activities. It could be beneficial to wear items that support your pouch.
  • Make an appointment with your medical staff to find the source of the odour.
  • To prevent pancaking, think about dressing comfortably around your pouch.
  • Foods that make your stools thicken can be best avoided. Keeping a meal journal may also help identify the items that make your stools thicker or give you gas.
  • Your colonoscopy bag may benefit from the use of lavender oil to aid with the odour.

When to contact a doctor

If you notice a persistent odour coming from your pouch, it would be a good idea to see a doctor. They can offer you advice on preventive measures and assist you in determining the reason. Additionally, they can evaluate your equipment's fit and look for any issues that could result in a leak, like stomal necrosis (tissue death surrounding the stoma).


If your coloscopy bag fits properly, there shouldn't be any smell. If an odour does appear, it can mean that your bag is leaking if it does. It can also indicate that your body is releasing more pungent gas than usual.

If your bag is overfilled, doesn't fit properly, or the apparatus is broken, it can leak. You can discover the root reason with the aid of a doctor.

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