White specks in stool usually result from food, medication, or a parasite. Treatment often includes dietary changes or medication.

Changes in the appearance of stool can signal a health problem. However, these changes often reflect adjustments to diet or bowel habits.

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.

A variety of nuts and seeds, which can cause white specks in stool if undigested -1.Share on Pinterest
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Certain types of food, medication, or parasites can cause white specks in stool.

Diet

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.

Medication

Some pills have hard outer casings. The body may absorb the medication but not this casing, which can appear in stools. Empty cases are sometimes called ghost pills.

Some people may be concerned when a drug casing appears in their stool because they think the medication has not worked. However, finding the pill casing in the stool is normal for long-acting or extended-release medications.

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.

Parasites

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.

Learn more about parasitic infections in humans.

The correct treatment will depend on what is causing white specks in a person’s stool.

Dietary intervention

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 how often this occurs.

Medication changes

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.

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

Learn about the proper handwashing technique.

Remnants of foods and pill casings passing to the stool are 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 can cause cysts. A cyst is a small sac filled with fluid. Some cysts can stop organs from working correctly, most commonly the brain or liver.

Symptoms include problems with eyesight, headaches, and coughing up blood. If any of these symptoms follow a tapeworm infection, see a doctor.

A person who suspects a parasitic infection should see a doctor as the infection will usually require medication.

Some may wish to consult a doctor if diet changes do not normalize stool color. 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 carry no symptoms. Oral treatments can treat most parasitic infections quickly and without complication.

White specks in the stool may result from 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 who suspects they have an intestinal parasite should seek medical assistance immediately.