White specks in stool usually result from food, medication, or a parasite. Treatment is often straightforward, and adjustments to diet are easy to make.
Changes in the appearance of stool can signal a health problem. However, these changes most often reflect adjustments to diet or bowel habits. If this is the case, the stool should return to normal within a few days.
Nuts and seeds can sometimes go through the body without breaking down completely. The outer shells of some pills can also survive the digestive process and show up in the stool.
Tapeworms or pinworms can look like white specks, and medications are available to treat both infections.
Certain types of food, medication, or parasites can cause white specks in stool.
The body does not digest some foods as thoroughly as others. For example, sesame seeds and some nuts, such as almonds, are white. Small pieces of these foods may show up in stool as white specks.
These seeds have a hard outer layer that protects the contents inside, and they may pass through the digestive system whole.
White specks in stool that occur soon after a person has eaten seeds are usually no cause for concern.
Learn more about undigested food in the stool here.
Some pills have hard outer casings. The body may absorb the medication but not this casing, which
Empty cases are sometimes called ghost pills. Medications that may cause ghost pills to appear in stool are:
- extended-release metformin, a treatment for diabetes
- oxycontin, a pain medication
- venlafaxine, an antidepressant
Some people may be concerned when a drug casing appears in their stool because they think the medication has not worked.
If a person is worried, their doctor may be able to prescribe an alternative medication. For example, some medicines are available as liquids rather than pills.
Tapeworms and pinworms can appear as white specks in stools. Tapeworm infection is uncommon, but these specks are a key symptom.
White or yellow specks may be pieces of parasitic worms. These pieces are usually flat, square-shaped, and about the size of a grain of rice.
Some people may not have additional symptoms. Others may experience a stomachache or diarrhea.
The correct treatment will depend on what is causing white specks in a person’s stool.
If white specks in a person’s stool result from undigested food, then it is typically not cause for concern. However, assessing which foods pass whole and limiting them can reduce the frequency of this occurring.
If medication casings pass through a person’s gastrointestinal tract without proper digestion, doctors may be able to prescribe alternative medicines. Instead of capsules, pills or oral solutions may be available.
Treatments for parasites
Oral medications can treat many gastrointestinal parasites. These medications kill the parasite, which will pass out of the body in a stool.
A person may be required to give a stool sample 2 to 3 months after treatment, to check whether the infection has cleared up.
Remnants of foods and pill casings passing to the stool is typically not a cause for concern. However, parasitic infections can lead to complications.
It is unusual for a person with a tapeworm infection to have complications. However, newly hatched tapeworms can move from the gut to other organs, and this
Symptoms include problems with eyesight, headaches, and coughing up blood. If any of these symptoms follow a tapeworm infection, see a doctor.
Changes in the color and appearance of the stool are likely to happen occasionally, and prevention is not always possible.
A person may choose to keep a food diary and check the appearance of their stools. This can help to determine the cause of white specks. Avoiding whole nuts and seeds should cause the appearance of stool to return to normal.
To prevent intestinal parasite infections, people should:
- wash hands thoroughly before preparing and eating
- only drink from safe water sources
- thoroughly wash any garden-grown fruit and vegetables
- deworm pets regularly
A person who suspects a parasitic infection should see a doctor. The infection will usually require medication.
Some may wish to consult a doctor if changes to diet do not normalize the color of stool. A doctor should ensure that a person is correctly absorbing medication if pill casings continually appear in stools.
If the stool is mostly or entirely white, see a doctor. This may indicate that the pancreas, liver, or bile duct is not functioning as it should.
White specks in the stool are not a serious concern. Small changes can prevent the occurrence and many treatments exist in cases of parasitic infections.
Although the appearance of undigested food pill casings in the stool may be worrying, it is often not a cause for concern. It is natural for some foods to pass into the stool undigested and the body will absorb the necessary medication from within casings during digestion.
Pinworm and tapeworm infections are unpleasant but may
White specks in the stool may be the result of undigested food, pill casings, or a parasitic infection.
Changes to diet and medication types can treat these cases, while simple medications can treat parasitic infections.
Anyone that suspects they have an intestinal parasite should seek medical assistance immediately.