You’ve gone through every roll of toilet paper in your house. The flushing toilet is waking up the neighbors. You’re barely holding your sh*t together, literally. And to quote Ellie Goulding, you’re “gonna let it burn, burn, burn, burn…”
Diarrhea is defined as loose, watery stools that happen three or more times a day. While diarrhea can affect people in different ways (and doesn’t always burn), you may have more bowel movements than usual and it will be urgent when you need to go.
The burning or itching in #UrAnus that accompanies your diarrhea may seem alarming, but the good news is that it’s usually not an emergency. (However, if the pain is extreme or if you see blood, see a doctor!)
Otherwise, your poo situation will most likely improve within a few hours or a few days, depending on what caused this sorry state of affairs. In the meantime, there are home remedies to ease your anus. The most important thing you can do is drink water.
If you’re wondering why your ass is on fire, the simple reason is because something’s gone awry in your digestive system. A common reason for diarrhea is that your intestines are not absorbing enough fluid from your body’s waste and it’s coming out the other end.
It’s easy to forget that there’s a whole food journey from first chew to number 2. At least it is when things are running like normal.
What is normal? Food enters your system and a variety of acids and digestive enzymes get to work as soon as food touches saliva.
Your mucosa lines the length of your digestive system and contains tiny glands that produce digestive juices to help break down food. Bile, a fat-dissolving digestive juice produced by your liver, is added to the mixture to help your body finish absorbing nutrients.
By the time food passes through the small intestine, most digestive juices should be neutralized. Food becomes feces — badda bing, badda boom: normal digestion.
If foods aren’t broken down enough, then the acids, enzymes, and bile can damage tissue and cause burning sensations as food speeds through the end of the digestion process.
Hormone and nerve regulators that control the process can be triggered to increase the force of food movement. That’s why you may feel your muscles contract and signal that you can’t wait to go to the bathroom.
There are a variety of culprits that could trigger diarrhea:
- artificial sweeteners
- laxative abuse
- alcohol abuse
- fructose (sugar found in fruit)
- stomach ulcers
- food allergies
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- bacterial infection (H. Pylori)
Bad news for spicy food lovers
If you have a loving relationship with spicy foods, beware. Capsaicin, a chemical compound in foods like hot peppers, might cause your digestive system to mutiny on the poop deck.
Skin contact with capsaicin can cause burning, and it’s even asthma-inducing for some people. So it’s no wonder that this little ingredient can trigger the runs.
Remember, diarrhea happens when waste speeds out of your digestive system ahead of schedule. That means the capsaicin you’ve consumed in a spicy food might leave the body before breaking down properly. This can cause a burning sensation around your anus.
You might be sensitive to spicy foods if the following things happen after you eat something with capsaicin:
- burning diarrhea
- stomach cramps
If you think spicy foods are causing your burning diarrhea, keep a food diary, note symptoms and episodes, and then cut out the ones that burn all the way down and out. Sadly, the best solution may be to limit intake or cut them out completely.
Let’s talk about hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in or around your anus. If you stressed out your bum hole lately, the strain may have caused the veins to swell. Nothing further irritates hemorrhoids like a bout of diarrhea. Their revenge: heavy fire.
Here are a couple of other signs that you’ve got hemorrhoids:
- stool leakage
- swelling or a lumpy anus
- itching, pain, or discomfort on your anus
- bleeding during bowel movements (with or without pain)
Bleeding — yes, from your butt — can be a pretty disturbing symptom of hemorrhoids, but there’s no need to panic.
If you see a little bit of fresh blood on your toilet paper after you wipe, stay calm. But if there is a lot of blood, or the blood is darker and mixed in with your stool, definitely get set an appointment with your healthcare provider ASAP!
Hemorrhoids can heal on their own, but you can speed up the process and reduce the discomfort. As anyone who has watched a Preparation H commercial knows, there are plenty of hemorrhoid treatments out there.
In addition to being very gentle when you wipe to avoid irritating hemorrhoids further, you can try:
- a cotton pad soaked with witch hazel
- an ice pack to reduce swelling
- a warm water soak a few times per day (a sitz bath)
- moist towelettes or wet toilet paper instead of dry when you wipe; avoid soap, as it can cause irritation
- Over-the-counter (OTC) creams like Preparation H or Doctor Butler’s
- OTC pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen
‘Anal fissures’ are a fancy way of saying physical trauma
Hemorrhoids aren’t the only cause of painful pooping. Rough foods that are hard to digest or have edible seeds, pods, or shells can cause trouble for your toosh.
Rough food can cause small tears in your derriere’s delicate tissues — also known as anal fissures.
A large, hard poop or a hard-on in the backdoor (yup, we’re talking about anal sex) can both cause a fissure.
Here’s a few other causes of anal fissures:
- STIs (sexually transmitted infections)
- chronic diarrhea
- vaginal birth
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
- IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)
- anal cancer
Add diarrhea and an increase in wiping to the equation, and you’ve got a nightmare on your hands (and around your anus).
Anal fissure treatments
Constipation may be causing your too-hard-poops to pass and cause fissures. If that’s why you’re butt-sore, your doctor will likely recommend a stool softener.
Doctor prescribed options (increase blood flow which promotes healing):
- nitroglycerin ointment
- nifedipine ointment
- lidocaine jelly
FYI: if you have chronic or severe cases of anal fissures, you may need a procedure like lateral internal sphincterotomy (LIS) or an injection of Botox.
Whether your condition is chronic or severe will depend on your lifestyle, including dietary habits. Your doctor will be the one to determine whether or not these treatments are needed.
Initially, a doctor’s goal will be to help you prevent recurring fissures by recommending a high-fiber diet, stool softeners, and drinking plenty of water.
Another diarrhea culprit: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
IBS can be really challenging and it comes with some uncomfortable symptoms:
- stomach pain, cramping
- mucousy stool
- diarrhea, constipation, or both
If you have IBS then you likely alternate between periods of diarrhea and bouts of constipation. People with IBS-D (IBS with diarrhea) experience an average of 200 episodes of gas and diarrhea per year. That’s almost as many episodes as Friends had in 10 years. Perspective, eh?
IBS is a chronic condition, but there are ways to manage it with the help of your doctor:
- Keep a food diary so you are aware of potential triggers.
- Adjust fiber intake (high fiber can reduce constipation; lower it if you experience gas or cramping).
- Eat small, plain meals during diarrhea phases.
- Exercise regularly and drink plenty of water.
- Be careful with OTC anti-diarrhea meds (don’t use during constipation).
- Try acupuncture.
- Try hypnosis.
- Take probiotics as directed by your doctor.
- Practice yoga and meditation to reduce stress.
- Try doctor-prescribed medications like lubiprostone or alosetron.
That’s not all, unfortunately. There are a few other gastrointestinal conditions that can cause chronic diarrhea.
- Crohn’s disease
- celiac disease
- ulcerative colitis
Since there are so many different reasons for diarrhea, you should seek help from a doctor to pinpoint exactly what’s causing your distress. You might be experiencing:
- Food intolerance: This sparks an immune response where your body works to remove the irritant ASAP.
- Medications: Diarrhea is a side effect of Meformin, a med for type 2 diabetes. It’s also commonly associated with SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) aka antidepressant meds. Statins which reduce cholesterol and antibiotics.
- Food poisoning: Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of your tummy, caused by infection. If the source was from food, it’s called food poisoning. The longer the episode, the more likely that wiping will irritate and cause burning. Depending on the severity, food poisoning can last days, weeks, even months. Most types of bacterial or parasitic infections require medical treatment.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics disturb intestinal microbes and can allow infection by toxin-producing bacteria in some cases. This may require medical treatment.
- Medical therapies for cancer: Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and several other cancer management medications can cause diarrhea for up to 3 weeks after a treatment session. Tumor growth itself can also cause diarrhea.
- Surgery: Especially those involving the gastrointestinal organs.
- Stomach Flu: The actual flu (influenza) affects your lungs. Gastroenteritis is the one that attacks your intestine. Stomach flu is always caused by a virus. It can last anywhere from 1 to 2, or up to 10 days.
The best way to recover from burning diarrhea is to eat a bland diet: Saltines and lots and lots of water! Yay! You can add diluted juices or drinks with added electrolytes to restore salt and sugars, especially if your diarrhea lasts more than a day or 2 and you’re feeling dehydrated.
Skip alcohol. And caffeine. Yes, it might be temporary torture, but it might help keep your booty from burning in that not-so-good way.
Dense carbs can help solidify your less-than-giggly-shits. It’s toast, rice, and bananas all the way. Eating yogurt can also restore balance to the force… of your butt flow. It helps rebuild gastrointestinal flora.
- avoid foods high in sugar or fat
- avoid spicy foods or known food allergens
- wipe gently
- wash your bum with lukewarm water
- use scent-free baby wipes
- sit in a warm Epsom salt bath to reduce skin irritation
- try a probiotic supplement
- use an OTC hemorrhoid cream
- use an OTC pain medication
We know that diarrhea is gross to deal with, but trust: It happens to everyone. Many causes of burning diarrhea are temporary, and home remedies will go a long way!
Chronic conditions like IBS, or serious issues like colon cancer, will require specialized treatment plans. You simply won’t know what’s the matter until you get checked out by a doctor.
If you’re noticing overall changes in your bowel habits, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit.
If you haven’t had a rectal exam by a medical professional here’s the need to know.
- Digital rectal exam: Your doctor will insert a gloved and lubricated finger into your butt to feel for growths and lumps. You can request another medical professional be in the room with you during this exam.
- Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy is an internal exam of the colon and rectum via an endoscope (a small light and camera that will be inserted to look for things like internal hemorrhoids). These are more common for people over 50, but it’s a possibility if your doctor is concerned.
You’re going to want to see your doctor if you experience:
- blood in your stool (it might just be a hemorrhoid, but better safe than sorry)
- rectal bleeding
- abdominal pain, especially if it’s at night and worsening
- unusual or significant weight loss
- fever, chills, night sweats
- a skin rash
- signs of severe dehydration, like dark-colored urine or dizziness
Yes, poop problems can feel embarrassing, but your burning bum shouldn’t cause you long-term stress. Chronic conditions can be managed, especially with the help of your healthcare provider.
Temporary situations should improve with a bland diet, rehydration, and some backside TLC.