People with diarrhea might have at least three rounds of loose, wet stools per day. This can lead to a rash or a sore anus from repeated wipes. Home remedies can help soothe the discomfort.

Adults and older children can develop a sore bum from severe diarrhea or diarrhea that goes on for a long time. Babies can develop diaper rash due to delicate skin and tight diapers.

This article looks at why people may feel soreness after a post-diarrhea wipe and how they can help make it feel better.

underpantsShare on Pinterest
creacart/Getty Images

Diarrhea involves loose, watery stools. The excessive bathroom use that results from diarrhea can lead to a sore bum.

It can also develop due to a range of causes, such as:

This can cause soreness for various reasons.

Burning diarrhea

The diarrhea itself can feel like it is burning, which can lead to a sore bum.

Burning diarrhea may occur due to the presence of too much bile in the stool. Bile is a fluid in the digestive system that is full of enzymes and acids that help the body absorb food.

However, if the body has not neutralized these enough by the time food waste becomes stools, it can cause tissue damage and a burning sensation along with diarrhea.

Learn more about burning diarrhea.

Pruritis ani

According to the American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons, the moisture from diarrhea can be irritating and may lead to an itchy, uncomfortable anus.

Symptoms might go away as soon as a person wipes the poop from the area. However, intense cleaning, aggressive wiping, or the overuse of lotions and cleaning products might also contribute to the issue.

Some people refer to this as polished anus syndrome.

Anal fissure

These are tears or sores that develop just below the anus. They can result from chronic diarrhea and can lead to a burning pain that lasts for several hours.

People with an anal fissure may notice blood on their toilet paper or in their stools. They should see a physician as soon as possible.

Learn more about diarrhea.

Along with a sore bum, other symptoms of diarrhea might include:

  • abdominal pain
  • the urgent need to poop
  • an inability to control the bowels

Diarrhea can occur due to a viral or bacterial infection. In these cases, a person with diarrhea may also experience the following symptoms:

While a sore bum can be uncomfortable and irritating, diarrhea may clear up without treatment. However, people should contact a physician if they notice any symptoms of dehydration.

Diarrhea uses water, so extreme or persistent diarrhea can leave the body short on water. Symptoms of dehydration include:

Other signs that diarrhea warrants a clinician’s attention include:

  • diarrhea that lasts longer than 2 days or more than 24 hours in children
  • severe abdominal or anal pain
  • a high fever of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher
  • stools that contain blood or pus
  • black, tarry stools

Babies’ bums can develop irritation easily. They regularly live with the pain and discomfort of diaper rash, which can cause redness and tenderness on the delicate skin underneath their diapers.

This occurs in about half of all babies, mainly between 9 months and 1 year of age, according to 2023 research. The researchers also note that about 25% of all dermatology visits in the first year of life are about diaper rash.

The main factor that leads to diaper rash is an increase in moisture under the diaper, which may come from diarrhea. The rash then develops roughly 2 days later.

Managing diaper rash

Good hygiene is key to helping a baby experiencing a sore bum from diarrhea. This involves:

  • regularly changing diapers to reduce a baby’s exposure to diarrhea poop
  • using superabsorbent diapers to prevent excessively moist bum skin
  • applying wet wipes, so long as they are free of soaps, essential oils, detergents, and potentially irritating fragrances
  • using barrier creams, or emollients, which help create a barrier between the skin, the diaper, and any poop or urine
  • applying a low dose corticosteroid cream if symptoms continue despite at least 3 days of trying other soothing treatments

If diaper rash has occurred due to a bacterial or fungal infection, topical antibacterial and antifungal creams are available.

It is a good idea to take the baby to a doctor if:

  • The rash does not get better.
  • The rash actively gets worse.
  • The rash spreads to other areas.
  • The baby develops a fever.
  • The baby shows signs of extreme discomfort.

Learn more about ways to treat diaper rash.

The following steps can help older children and adults soothe post-diarrhea bum soreness:

  • Use damp toilet paper or wet wipes to clean the bum area with less friction: Some people may find that wet wipes containing witch hazel, tea tree oil, or chamomile may help. However, there is no reliable evidence confirming that this helps. Avoid wet wipes with irritating fragrances and use a patting rather than wiping motion to reduce friction.
  • Apply petroleum jelly to the area: Products like Vaseline can help soothe the skin around the anus.
  • Try bathing in warm water: A sitz bath might also help, according to the U.K.’s National Health Service. This involves adding 1/4 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda to a bath with water about 5 inches high. A 2022 review of 11 studies found that evidence generally supported the anal pain relief properties of sitz baths.
  • Apply barrier creams: As in infants, emollients such as zinc oxide can provide a barrier between the skin and irritants like diarrhea poop.
  • Stick to loose, cotton underwear: Tight underwear made from synthetic materials can be irritating. Cotton can help absorb the excess moisture.

It is common to have a sore bum from diarrhea. Diarrhea can feel like it is burning, and it can also damage the skin around the anus, causing pain and irritation. Diaper rash can also affect babies in a similar way.

Treatments include gentle wiping and cleansing, avoiding irritants, and barrier creams. Consider a sitz bath for adults, which can also be effective. Change babies’ diapers regularly to prevent and manage diaper rash.

See a doctor if pain and diarrhea do not get better, or if signs of dehydration start to develop.