A Practical Guide to Ostomy Filter Stickers (w/ video)

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When I was a new ostomate, I remember seeing sheets of stickers included with my ostomy bags and had no idea what they were for.

In this article, I’ll explain what those stickers are used for, when to use them, and how to use them effectively.

This guide will be most useful to colostomates and ileostomates who use filtered ostomy pouches.

Video

This video gives a great overview of filter stickers and you can see where and how they are applied to various ostomy pouches.

Introduction

Assortment of ostomy filter stickers
Filter stickers can come in various sizes, shapes, and colors.

Filter stickers, which usually come on a sheet of wax paper, are usually included in boxes of filtered ostomy pouches or filtered one-piece appliances.

I say “usually” because some companies don’t include these stickers as not all bags require them.

They are often round with a small tab on one side, although some brands like B. Braun have larger stickers. Regardless, they all work the same way and can help ostomates in several situations.

What Are Filter Stickers Used For?

This is the million dollar question! Why include stickers in the first place?

Most instructions included in your box of ostomy pouches won’t really explain what the filter stickers are for.

Some manufacturers, like ConvaTec, do include instructions that only tell part of the story (but, kudos to them for trying!).

Filter sticker instructions included in ConvaTec box
ConvaTec included this instruction sheet for using filters.

Surprisingly, there can actually be several uses for these stickers:

  • To keep your filter dry.
  • To prevent the “vacuum effect”.
  • To keep smells out.
  • To keep filters from leaking.

As you can see, filter stickers are meant to cover the filter on ostomy bags. If you’re wearing an appliance that does not have a filter, you won’t get these stickers in the box.

But even some appliances that do include filters may not come with stickers.

Brands like Hollister claim that their filters are water-resistant and don’t need stickers to protect them. In my experience, this seems to be true of the AF300 filters on the Hollister New Image bags, but it’s still nice to have stickers as they can be used for more than just keeping your filter dry.

Hollister premier AF300 filter
That white film on the left is a special membrane that allows gas to escape the pouch while keeping water out. This filter does not require a sticker.

How to Use Filter Stickers

There’s no mystery to applying filter stickers.

You’ll want to make sure that your ostomy pouch is dry and clean.

You can then remove one filter sticker from the sheet and gently place it over the center of your filter.

Make sure that you’ve covered the entire filter with the sticker or else it won’t be very effective.

When you no longer need to use the filter sticker, or if you want to replace it with a fresh one, simply remove and discard the old sticker and put a new one on.

When to Use Filter Stickers

Depending on why you’re using filter stickers, when to use them will vary.

Keeping Your Filter Dry

This is the primary reason why someone would use a filter sticker.

If you find filter stickers included in your box of pouches, assume that your filters need to be covered to protect them from getting wet!

Some ostomates will use these stickers just before entering a shower or swimming pool, while others will keep them on all the time. It’s totally up to when you put it on, but make sure it goes on before you get your pouch wet!

Most stickers will still maintain a good seal after being wet, so you can keep it on after you’ve dried your appliance.

For more tips on showering, consider THIS article.

Preventing the “vacuum effect”

Anyone who’s familiar with “pancaking” will know that often times it can happen when the walls of your appliance are stuck together.

This happens when the filter on your pouch works too well (sometimes they do!) and there’s a vacuum effect that makes it look like you’re trying to vacuum seal the contents of your pouch!

This vacuum effect can obviously be problematic, and there are ways to minimize it, including covering the filter with one of those stickers!

Ideally, you’ll want to cover your filter before this vacuum effect happens, although it’s perfectly fine to do so when you need to (not everyone has this problem).

If you’re using a filter sticker to prevent the vacuum effect, know that your filter will not be able to remove gas on its own, so your pouch may balloon as it fills up. Feel free to remove part or all of the filter sticker from time to time to help gas escape

Keeping Smells Out

The point of an ostomy bag filter is to not only release gas from your pouch but to deodorized any gas that does come out.

Unfortunately, as filters become soiled, they can also be a source of odor.

If you find that you’re not ready to change your appliance yet, but have a clogged filter (whether it smells already or not), you may decide to put a filter sticker over it until you change your bag.

You will need to keep the filter sticker on there or risk those odors coming out again.

Want more tips to preventing ostomy odors? Check out THIS article.

Prevent Filter Leaks

As with the problem of smells I’ve mentioned above, if your filter becomes saturated with output, there’s a chance that it can also leak.

I’ve had this happen to me, and it can become a huge source of frustration as it can stain clothes when it happens.

Fortunately, placing a filter sticker over your soiled filter can help prevent leaks.

Keep in mind that if your filter is saturated, it won’t work anymore, so keep that filter sticker on until you’re ready to change your appliance.

For tips on how to prevent other types of ostomy leaks, I have a GUIDE for that!

Additional Tips

  • If you don’t have any filter stickers, most tape, including medical tape, can be used.  Just be sure that you use a type that’s water-resistant and doesn’t leave too much of a sticky mess when you remove it.
  • When you’ve got a filter sticker covering your filter, your ostomy bag may begin to fill with gas. Feel free to remove the sticker from time to time to help the gas to escape.
  • Most manufacturers who do include filter stickers will often include more stickers than bags. Keep any extras you have and use them at a later time. You’ll never know when you need to use a bunch of filter stickers and it’s nice to have extra.

Clothing Thoughts

Filters on ostomy bags can often be hit or miss, but some of the problems that can sometimes come along with them can be mitigated by using filter stickers correctly.

Hopefully, this article has covered the subject of covering your filter well ;)

Question: Do you use filter stickers?
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6 thoughts on “A Practical Guide to Ostomy Filter Stickers (w/ video)

  1. Eric thanks for these tips with the stickers. I’ve been having a trouble with pancaking. I put a filter sticker on and I blew a little air into the pouch so that it was a little bit puffy. And that kept my output flowing downward instead of getting stuck. I also gave my pouch a good shot of lubricant and deodorant liquid which helped too. And then I had another idea come to me just out of the blue and I hope that it’s of interest to you too. I was going through things in my kitchen and I found my can of compressed air that I use for dusting computer equipment and things like that. The thought of blowing into a pouch that I had just drained was not particularly appealing to me so I took my little can of air in with me and gave it just a brief squirt of air and it inflated the pouch just enough and is working really well. The air in those cans is really very clean because it has to be for electronic parts. Just thought you might like to try that little hint cuz it’s working for me and I especially appreciate it with the stickers over the filter and the whole thing

  2. I do use the filter stickers. Since I have an ileostomy, my output is always liquid and sometimes it will leak at the filter.

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