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Why Does Diarrhea Burn Your Bottom?
Updated on September 21, 2023
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At Home Health
Why Does Diarrhea Burn Your Bottom?

While we have all probably experienced diarrhea at one time or another, some cases can be worse than others. Sometimes, frequent pooping can be accompanied by a burning sensation from acidic poop.

There are several reasons why diarrhea could be causing a burning sensation when you poop. These range from anything like irritation from repeatedly wiping with toilet paper, eating spicy foods, or certain conditions like proctitis.

In this article, we’ll go over the potential causes of acidic or fiery poop and what you can do to prevent it.

What is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a symptom describing loose, watery, or frequent bowel movements. It’s one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions in the world. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases estimates that roughly 179 million cases occur in the United States every year.11

Symptoms associated with diarrhea include:

  • Belly cramps or pain
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Blood or mucus in the stool

Diarrhea is naturally short-lived and shouldn’t endanger your health. However, experiencing dehydration through chronic diarrhea can lead to harmful consequences. This is why getting medical help is vital if you’re experiencing diarrhea for two days or more.

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What Causes Acidic or Fiery Poop?: 7 Potential Causes

Acute diarrheal infections (bacterial or viral infections that cause diarrhea) are a common cause of acidic or fiery poop and can come from various sources. This is why there are different reasons your bowel movement can result in a burning sensation or pain.

What actually causes burning diarrhea can vary, depending on certain variables.

Listed below are seven potential causes of acidic or fiery poop:

1. Anal Itching

Bits of feces coming into contact with the anus for long periods can result in irritation, itching, or a burning sensation.1 This can also occur if you have watery stools, like during an episode of diarrhea.2 

Besides fecal residue, anal irritation can also come from soap which can sometimes irritate the skin around the anus.2,3

While acidic poop can be caused by poor hygiene after a bowel movement, it can also come from too much cleaning. Excessive and harsh wiping can also cause this kind of irritation.

2. Anal Fissures

Anal fissures can cause burning diarrhea. These are tears in the tissue lining the anus.

Commonly, these are caused by constipation or passing large stools, longer bouts of diarrhea, and anal intercourse. Anal fissures result in pain while pooping, which can sometimes last even after you’ve finished.

If you see bright red blood on your toilet paper after wiping, that can also indicate an anal fissure.4

3. Proctitis

Proctitis is another condition that can cause a burning sensation when you go to the bathroom. If you have proctitis, your rectum is inflamed, resulting in pain or a burning sensation during your bowel movements.

An inflamed rectum can also result in diarrhea. Proctitis is usually caused by gastrointestinal infections, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or certain sexually transmitted infections.5

4. Spicy Foods

Spicy food is also thought to cause burning diarrhea. This is because capsaicin, one of the chemicals that gives spicy foods their heat, can also cause burning and irritation when it comes into contact with different parts of your body.6

Aside from causing pain, capsaicin can also cause food to pass through your gut more quickly. This means your body may not break down capsaicin fast enough to mitigate its effects on the entire digestive tract, including the anus.7

However, not all people will experience burning bowel movements after eating spicy foods.

Some research has found that capsaicin may not cause burning in all people,9 while other studies have shown that burning diarrhea can be more common in people with other gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.10

5. Allergic Reactions

Acidic poop can also be caused by food allergies or reactions to medicines. Eating that specific substance can lead to diarrhea if you have a food intolerance. This is common to people with dairy and gluten food intolerances.

Other symptoms of food intolerance include:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Abdominal (belly) pain
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach

Food intolerances often cause chronic diarrhea, which can lead to having acidic or burning poop during bowel movements.

6. Bile Acid Diarrhea (BAD)

Conditions like bile acid diarrhea (BAD) can also cause persistent diarrhea, potentially resulting in acidic stool. Doctors have known about BAD before, but it’s only recently revealed that it’s likely more common than previously thought.14

Bile acid is a substance secreted by the liver, which allows you to digest fat. The small intestine usually reabsorbs it before food passes to the large intestine.

If you have BAD, your liver can produce too much bile, or your small intestines can’t absorb enough of it. This results in bile entering the large intestine. The large intestine usually absorbs water from food passing through it, but bile can cause it to secrete water instead, leading to watery bowel movements.

7. Other Gastrointestinal Disorders

Gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can cause acidic poop.13

For example, IBS is a common chronic condition resulting in the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in your bowel habits

Despite being a relatively common disease, we still don’t know what exactly causes it. While IBS does not directly cause acidic or fiery poop, it does lead to diarrhea which can lead to painful bowel movements. It can also cause a burning pain in the stomach.16

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can refer to two conditions: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both these conditions involve inflammation in the digestive system and result in abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and chronic diarrhea.

Similar to IBS, IBD does not directly result in burning diarrhea but causes long-term diarrhea and can cause burning pains in the stomach.17

Why Does Diarrhea Burn?

Besides unhealthy food options, diarrhea can also result from functional bowel disorders, antibiotics, metabolic or thyroid disorders, recent surgery, and others.12

Why diarrhea burns your bottom can be due to your diet or certain gastrointestinal conditions. This can be due to capsaicin content or your body’s bile levels.

As mentioned above, spicy food can cause fiery poop because of its capsaicin content. As the compound that causes the sensation of spice, capsaicin can also cause pain or burning. It can also make food pass through your digestive tract more quickly, harming your intestines and butt.6,7

While not all people will experience burning when they eat spicy food, people with certain gastrointestinal conditions might be at increased risk of experiencing burning.9,10

BAD can be exacerbated by your diet because bile is secreted to process fat in foods, so the more fatty foods you eat, the more bile you will need to secrete. This can worsen BAD’s symptoms, including diarrhea.14

What is Chronic Diarrhea?

Diarrhea from food poisoning or the flu might take up to two days before its symptoms disappear. However, if you have diarrhea for four weeks or more, it’s already considered chronic diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea can be a symptom of another underlying medical condition.

If left untreated, chronic diarrhea can complicate your life by:

  • Affecting daily life due to frequent bowel movements
  • Constant fatigue from bowel movements
  • Risk of dehydration from electrolyte loss
  • Risk of kidney disease

Chronic diarrhea is a common symptom among colorectal cancer patients. If you’re experiencing chronic diarrhea, visit a doctor immediately to get an accurate diagnosis of your health.

What Food Should I Avoid if I Have Acidic Poop?

Besides spicy food, other food can also cause anal itching or irritation. This can worsen the burning sensation felt during bowel movement. These include:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Soda
  • Milk
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Vitamin C supplements

If these foods cause you anal itching, it may take a while before abstaining from eating them will take effect.2 Remember that processing food in your stomach can take over a day, so be aware of what you eat to avoid diarrhea.

What Food Should I Eat if I Have Acidic Poop?

Changing your diet is one of your best solutions for easing diarrhea. One of the most important things to do when you have diarrhea is to drink plenty of fluids to replace the water lost in your bowel movements.

You can also drink electrolyte solutions or sports drinks to replenish electrolytes.18

Follow a BRAT diet to help soothe your stomach. BRAT is an acronym that stands for:18

  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Toast

You can also eat other foods that are less likely to upset your stomach including:18

  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal (without milk)
  • Boiled or baked potatoes
  • Baked chicken (without skin)

Non-Dietary Measures to Prevent and Manage Acidic Diarrhea

Aside from changing your diet, there are several other ways you can help manage or prevent diarrhea:

  • Take over-the-counter (OTC) Medications Some over-the-counter medications, like loperamide, can help control diarrhea by reducing the number of bowel movements you have. However, you should not take these medications if you have a fever or see blood in your poop.19,20
  • Take probiotics Probiotics can also help prevent diarrhea and potentially treat diarrhea as well. There is encouraging evidence showing that probiotics have beneficial effects on digestive health. Probiotics can be taken through supplements, as well as through probiotic foods like yogurt.19
  • Take care of your bottom If you have diarrhea, try sitting in lukewarm water in a bathtub and applying petroleum jelly to your anus.21 You should also avoid vigorously wiping with toilet paper after using the bathroom or using soap to clean the area. Wash the area with water, then pat dry or wipe gently.2,3,21

Preventing Burning Diarrhea

One of the best ways to prevent burning diarrhea is to watch your hygiene, especially when traveling. You can do a lot to prevent contracting diarrhea or manage it if you get it.

These simple measures can help greatly reduce your chances of getting burning diarrhea:12

  • Keep your hands clean – Wash your hands frequently or use alcohol or hand sanitizers to keep your hands free of harmful microorganisms.
  • Watch out for food poisoning – Be sure to cook your food at the proper temperatures that will kill bacteria, and avoid eating foods that haven’t been cooked or stored properly.
  • Get vaccinated – Vaccines can protect you from some pathogens that can cause diarrhea, like rotavirus.
  • Take care when traveling – You may need to avoid drinking tap water or ingesting ice that might have been made with tap water. It’s safest to drink bottled water and avoid street foods to prevent food poisoning. 

When to Seek Medical Help for Acidic Diarrhea

Usually, diarrhea will resolve on its own after a day or two. However, diarrhea can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious condition and can require medical attention.

Be sure to see a doctor if you experience any of the following:21

  • Diarrhea doesn’t resolve or improve after two days
  • Particularly severe rectal or abdominal pain
  • Your poop is bloody or black
  • You have a high fever (greater than 39°C)

You should also see a doctor if you experience signs of severe dehydration including:21

  • Thirst that is difficult to quench
  • Dryness in the mouth or skin
  • Less urination than normal
  • Fatigue
  • Dark colored urine

Key Takeaways

Diarrhea is a symptom describing loose, watery stool or frequent bowel movements because of this, acidic or fiery poop may be more common due to anal itching, anal fissures, and other potential causes.

Gastrointestinal disorders like bile acid diarrhea (BAD) commonly cause persistent diarrhea and acidic stool.

Besides acidic stool, watch out for potential symptoms of other medical conditions, such as rectal bleeding or chronic diarrhea. Contact your healthcare provider immediately to get an accurate diagnosis.

Changing your diet can go a long way to improving your bowel movements. Avoiding spicy food and switching to low-fat diets can be effective for BAD and can relieve some of its symptoms.

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Updated on September 21, 2023
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21 sources cited
Updated on September 21, 2023
  1. Anal itching.” MUSC Health.
  2. Anal Itch (Pruritus Ani).” Harvard Health Publishing.
  3. Pruritus Ani.” Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery.
  4. Anal fissure.” Mayo Clinic.
  5. Symptoms & Causes of Proctitis.” NIH NIDDK.
  6. Capsaicin: When the "Chili" Is Too Hot.” National Capital Poison Center.
  7. Why does spicy food make your poo burn?” Netdoctor.
  8. Effects of Chili Treatment on Gastrointestinal and Rectal Sensation in Diarrhea-predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Randomized, Double-blinded, Crossover Study.” Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility.
  9. Effect of repeated capsaicin ingestion on intestinal chemosensation and mechanosensation.” Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
  10. Effects of chili on postprandial gastrointestinal symptoms in diarrhoea predominant irritable bowel syndrome: evidence for capsaicin-sensitive visceral nociception hypersensitivity.” Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility.
  11. Definition & Facts for Diarrhea.” NIH NIDDK.
  12. Diarrhea.” Johns Hopkins Medicine.
  13. Chronic diarrhea.” Cleveland Clinic.
  14. Identifying diarrhea caused by bile acid malabsorption.” Mayo Clinic.
  15. The efficacy of a low-fat diet to manage the symptoms of bile acid malabsorption – outcomes in patients previously treated for cancer.” Clinical Medicine.
  16. Irritable bowel syndrome.” Mayo Clinic.
  17. What is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  18. “What To Eat When You Have Diarrhea.” Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials.
  19. Diarrhea.” Mayo Clinic.
  20. Diarrhea.” StatPearls.
  21. Diarrhea.” Cleveland Clinic.
Will Hunter
Will Hunter
Content Contributor
Will is a content writer for KnowYourDNA. He received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Will has 7 years of experience writing health-related content, with an emphasis on nutrition, alternative medicine, and longevity.
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