Burning diarrhea can cause severe discomfort. Diarrhea may burn a person’s bottom if there is bile or stomach acid in the stool, they have eaten spicy foods, or there is physical trauma at the anus.

However, it is important to note that severe or long lasting diarrhea can cause malnutrition and severe dehydration. Without treatment, dehydration can be fatal.

If a person experiences burning diarrhea that lasts for longer than 2 or 3 days or is extremely painful or bloody, they should seek medical attention.

This article defines burning diarrhea and explains its causes, as well as how to manage it.

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Spicy foods are a possible cause of burning diarrhea.

Diarrhea occurs when the intestines do not absorb enough fluid from the body’s waste. This means that stools will contain the surplus fluids and a person may experience loose, fluid-filled stools — with or without rectal pain — three or more times every day.

Sometimes, especially in intense or chronic cases, diarrhea can cause a painful, burning sensation in the rectum and anus. As such, when a person experiences a burning pain with diarrhea, people may refer to it as burning diarrhea.

There are several reasons that a person may experience burning diarrhea. Potential causes may include:

Stomach acids, digestive enzymes, and bile

When food enters the stomach, the stomach muscles mix the food and liquid with digestive juices. These juices include acids and digestive enzymes that begin breaking the food down.

The liver produces bile, which helps to break down fats. Bile mixes with stomach acid and digestive enzymes in the small intestine to break food down. By the time food passes through, the contents should no longer be acidic.

Diarrhea speeds up the digestion process, so foods often do not break down fully. This means that stomach acids, digestive enzymes, and bile may still be present in diarrhea. These can damage the tissues and cause a burning sensation in the rectum during or after a bowel movement.

Physical trauma

Foods may not entirely break down when they leave the body. For this reason, large, rough foods and those with edible seeds, pods, or shells may rub, cut, or cause small tears in the delicate tissues of the rectum.

Occasionally, simply wiping harder or more often after passing a stool is enough to increase irritation and contribute to burning diarrhea.

Spicy foods

Some spices contain chemical compounds that cause a warm, burning sensation upon contact with bodily tissues.

Capsaicin, the main active ingredient in most spicy foods, also features in over-the-counter (OTC) numbing products.

Capsaicin can irritate digestive tissues, triggering diarrhea. As diarrhea speeds up the digestive processes, the capsaicin from spicy foods may also leave the body before breaking down, causing a burning sensation as stools pass.

Other causes

Some other common causes of burning diarrhea may include:

  • excess alcohol consumption
  • stress
  • caffeine
  • artificial sweeteners
  • fructose, a naturally occurring sugar present in fruits
    • In people with fructose intolerance
  • laxative abuse

There are a number of health conditions that can increase the risk of burning diarrhea. These may include:

Irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal conditions

There are different subtypes of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) For example, IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D) is a subtype of IBS where diarrhea is the main symptom.

Other gastrointestinal conditions that could cause chronic diarrhea can include:


Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lower rectum or around the anus.

Episodes of diarrhea can increase irritation and swelling of hemorrhoids, which can then cause a burning, painfulo sensation.


Diarrhea is a known side effect of metformin, which is a medication that people use for managing type 2 diabetes.

According to a 2016 review, around 10% of people who take metformin experience side effects in the gastrointestinal system. Diarrhea is among these adverse effects.

Read on to learn more about the connection between diabetes and diarrhea here.

Food allergies or intolerances

When the small intestine senses a compound or substance that it is allergic or intolerant to, it can spark an exaggerated immune response.

One potential response is diarrhea. The immune system triggers the digestive system to remove the irritant as quickly as possible.

Read on to learn more about food allergies, food intolerances, and their differences.

Food poisoning

Nearly all types of food poisoning can cause diarrhea.

Cases of food poisoning may last for several days, weeks, or even months. Extended bouts of food poisoning can increase the chances of irritation from more frequent wiping.

Most types of bacterial and parasitic infections require medical treatment.


Antibiotics may cause diarrhea by disturbing the natural balance of microbes in the gut. This might allow bacterial overgrowth or infection by bacteria that produce toxins.

Cases of antibiotic-associated diarrhea may require medical treatment.

Read on to learn more about which foods to eat alongside antibiotics here.

Surgery or medical therapies

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and several other cancer treatments can all cause diarrhea. Tumor growth itself can also cause this symptom.

Diarrhea that occurs due to cancer therapy can last for up to 3 weeks after the end of treatment.

Surgeries involving the gastrointestinal system may also cause diarrhea as an adverse effect.

For some cases of burning diarrhea, several at-home remedies may help a person reduce the symptoms without dramatically interfering with immunity.

Diarrhea usually causes fluid loss, so increasing fluid intake can help prevent dehydration.

It may be helpful to drink more water during periods of diarrhea, but it is also important to replace salt and sugars with alternatives, such as saltines and diluted juice. One alternative is an oral rehydration solution that contains electrolytes. These products can help a person rehydrate after severe diarrhea.

A person should also try to consume bland foods — such as toast, rice, and bananas — if they are experiencing symptoms of diarrhea. Dense carbohydrates can help make stools more solid.

Eating probiotic yogurt may also help by restoring the natural balance of gastrointestinal flora, or microbes, after diarrhea.

A person with burning diarrhea should also:

  • avoid spicy foods and any food known allergens
  • be as gentle as possible when wiping
  • wash the area with lukewarm water and unscented baby wipes
  • sit in a warm bath with Epsom salts
  • avoid dehydrating foods and substances, such as caffeine and alcohol
  • avoid tobacco
  • apply a water repellent cream or ointment to the affected area
  • avoid foods high in sugar or fat
  • use OTC hemorrhoid creams
  • use OTC pain medication
  • take probiotic supplements

If a person experiences persistent or chronic diarrhea, it is advisable to contact a doctor. They will be able to prescribe medications to treat the underlying condition causing diarrhea.

Most cases of burning diarrhea will resolve without treatment after a day or two. However, longer or more intense episodes of diarrhea can sometimes be a symptom of a more significant health condition.

Some reasons to seek medical attention for burning diarrhea include:

  • diarrhea that does not resolve without treatment within 2 days
  • extremely painful diarrhea
  • blood in the stool
  • black stool
  • diarrhea due to an antibiotic or new medication
  • diarrhea that smells unusual
  • fever, chills, or night sweats
  • a rash
  • severe dehydration, including extreme thirst, exhaustion, lightheadedness, and dark colored urine
  • significant weight loss and a lack of appetite
  • vomiting
  • recent travel