Getting over the poop smell

Nursing Students Student Assist


Specializes in Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Hi everybody, I'm Jenna and I'm a senior nursing student. I'll be graduating in may. Currently, I'm a clinical assistant on a post partum unit which I absolutely love. In school, I'm on a post-surgical cardiothoracic stepdown telemetry unit. We have a wide variety of patients there. Even though cardiothoracic surgery isn't my area of interest, I'll be doing clinicals on this unit for the next few months.

Many a time, we have incontinent patients or patients who are using a bedside commode. Even though I work with babies at my job, I cannot deal with adult poop! I don't know what it is, but I gag, dry heave, and my eyes water. :mad: I don't, of course, do this in front of the patient, but as soon as I go to empty the commode I can't help but heave. I need to over come this, it's like my kryptonite, but I don't know what to do! Please help. :nurse:

Have you tried to rub vicks under your nose? when I do rounds at the nursing home, it works for me :) I gag at the smell of the ENTIRE nursing home! Lol!

Specializes in Emergency.

When you find out how, let me know! I've just learned to hold my breath for long periods of time! All I know is that breathing through your mouth doesn't always work as sometimes you can taste it on your tongue. Yuck!

I have a container of vicks vapor rub in my locker. If I have incontinent patients or patients with something that makes their stool smell FOUL, I put that jar in my pocket and use it liberally.

I'm not sure about the adult smell, but I know with the baby poop smell it took me some time to get used to. I'm still in Nursing school, but I've babysat plenty of babies and I mostly had to hold my breath in the beginning when changing diapers. Eventually I just didn't notice the smell anymore, but once I graduate and begin working, I'll definitely try that Vicks trick!

Specializes in being a Credible Source.

I was in your situation. Not just the smell but even the sight of poop would make me gag. Over time, I've gotten used to it. I do usually breathe through my mouth with my nose sealed off from the inside (and I've never tasted it, just as I can't taste much of anything when my nares are sealed shut). Even when I don't, though, I've become desensitized to the smell.

It'll get better over time, I'm guessing.

I squirt a big glob of sanitizer on my finger and make a "moustache". It masks smells temporarily.

that post about making a germ-x moustache made me laugh out loud!! Haha!!! but back to the Vicks--I have had 4 different RNs tell me that does the trick. Maybe you should try that. I am blessed with a VERY faint sense of smell. Seriously---a skunk could come and spray the room I am in right now and I wouldn't smell a bloomin' thing! Haha!

I have the same problem as you OP, same reaction. It's never the sight, but once I get a whiff of it, I start dry heaving and gagging. My eyes water also.

When I did my CNA clinical, I knew I was going to face the poo as all of our residents were incontinent. I read advice on here about Vick's. It really works!

I seriously put a glob of Vick's in each nostril, and I put peppermint Altoid's (like 3-4 of them) in my mouth. I can then take small breaths through my mouth and I don't smell anything but Vick's and peppermint. It is really a life saver for me.

I carry a teeny vial of clove essential oil and use a drop on the mask.

I never want to get used to the smell of foul stuff - nasty! C. diff, stale feces that's been in there for way too long, vomitus, necrotic tissue...

last week one of my pts had dementia, DM, C. dif, MRSA, AND a gangrenous ulcer on his heel. he was on contact iso and was waiting for his INR to drop so he could have a BKA.

I had him for 3 days. just walking by his room made me gag. and I swear, I could detect the smell of rotten flesh for days.

but that said, **** happens, and as nurses, it comes w/the territory.

One of our instructors said that smelling of an alcohol prep will help, guess it's the same thing as the germ-x, but not as irritating to the skin!

Wait until c-diff hits it nose ... u'll never forget it

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