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Do charcoal masks work for foul smells?

Nurses   (816 Views | 13 Replies)

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I’ve been thinking about buying charcoal surgical mask from Amazon to help mask code brown smells has anybody ever tried these? Do they work?

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VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

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Something that's a little less embarrassing for the patient: a quick dab of Vick's vapo-rub under the nose from the tiny little jar you carry in your scrub pocket for occasions like these. If you come into the room with a mask on they're going to feel bad about the smell, which they can't help.

Besides, after a while you'll be so used to the aroma of poop that you don't really think about it (unless it's a GI bleed or C.diff. NOTHING can get those smells out of my nose, and I retired five years ago).

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2 hours ago, VivaLasViejas said:

Something that's a little less embarrassing for the patient: a quick dab of Vick's vapo-rub under the nose from the tiny little jar you carry in your scrub pocket for occasions like these. If you come into the room with a mask on they're going to feel bad about the smell, which they can't help.

^ This about a thousand times.

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ruby_jane has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in ICU/community health/school nursing.

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VapoRub or any kind of peppermint or eucalyptus inhaler or even Tiger Balm (unless you have a sore nose from blowing it) have always worked for me.

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DextersDisciple has 7 years experience as a BSN, RN.

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Fortunately we are required to wear masks In IR. When there is an especially foul smelling abscess I wipe a small portion of the inside of the mask with an alcohol swab. It works pretty well.

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GrumpyRN has 38 years experience as a NP and specializes in Emergency Department.

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On 12/13/2019 at 10:04 AM, VivaLasViejas said:

Something that's a little less embarrassing for the patient: a quick dab of Vick's vapo-rub under the nose from the tiny little jar you carry in your scrub pocket for occasions like these. If you come into the room with a mask on they're going to feel bad about the smell, which they can't help.

Exactly what Viva said.

Also worth trying the good old fashioned method of taking 4-5 deep breaths and get it over with. (So want to insert the poo emoji here but feel it is a tad insensitive).

 

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If you get bored of the vapor rub or alcohol (even though I love the smell of alcohol wipes), you can always carry a small bottle of essential oil in your pocket and dab a few drops on the inside of the mask. I like grapefruit! I also add it in my water when I get bored of plain water. I like the oils because the bottle is small enough where it isn’t obnoxious in my pocket. 

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I used to work in hematology where all of our patients were immunocompromised, thus requiring masks 24/7. I used to put a couple of drops of peppermint oil on a small gauze and stick it in my mask. Most people are not offended by the smell of mint; some of my patients ask me if I were chewing gum. I suggest steering away from other essential oils, as some people find those smells to be noxious. I know this from experience. I never received a complaint about the mint smell, though. 

If I didn't have peppermint oil, I would use an alcohol wipe. 

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R5RN is a BSN, RN, EMT-P and specializes in ED and CTICU.

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Much easier solution - smear a bit of toothpaste between two masks.

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Hoozdo has 15 years experience as a ADN and specializes in ICU, Research, Corrections.

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Atomic Fireballs candy work for me!

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8 hours ago, R5RN said:

Much easier solution - smear a bit of toothpaste between two masks.

It's the mask that is the problem. It's insensitive to the patient who is likely already mortified about the situation. 

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R5RN is a BSN, RN, EMT-P and specializes in ED and CTICU.

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16 hours ago, Wuzzie said:

It's the mask that is the problem. It's insensitive to the patient who is likely already mortified about the situation. 

When I was pregnant at work, there was a couple of month time frame where smells were REALLY challenging for me. This was the only time I chose to wear masks. I certainly don't think it's insensitive to the patient. Sure, if you're matter-of-factly telling them "I'm wearing this mask because the smell of your stool is very offensive", that would be insensitive. But reassuring them that it's ok, it's no big deal, you just want to make sure they get all cleaned up, and are generally respectful and nice while not mentioning the mask at all, I don't see anything wrong with that. It's all in how the situation is handled, and if it is handled professionally while wearing a mask, there would be no reason for it to be considered insensitive.

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