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That Agonizing Feeling: Butt Burn

Let’s talk about it. That agonizing feeling.

It might be during a bowel movement, it might not be until afterward, but I’m quite positive most people with inflammatory bowel disease have experienced it.

Butt burn.

That feeling when you think it's possible your butthole might actually be on fire. When you check your toilet paper to make sure nobody switched it out with sandpaper. When you find tears welling in the corners of your eyes because it’s just that darn uncomfortable. It's the absolute worst.

Before I found remission, I experienced burning diarrhea almost daily. I was a professional at carrying wet wipes in my purse and learning to pat rather than wipe. I was used to feeling incredibly sore when sitting upright, nearly always. I hated every minute of feeling this way, and I feel like I looked at nearly anything that could help relieve my discomfort.

Here are some suggestions I wanted to share with you...

My top 3 tips for IBD butt burn

1. Find a substitute for toilet paper

Keeping clean is imperative, obviously, but scraping your skin can further irritate matters – significantly. Also, dry toilet paper pulls at the skin which can be the literal worst when it’s already very uncomfortable. 

I’ve found the use of wipes (baby wipes, prep H wipes, etc.) to provide a gentler and more cool approach. In addition, for times when I’ve been extremely irritated, keeping wipes in the fridge between uses provides some soothing and much-needed relief to an extremely upset and delicate area.

Another option: warm water. I’ve found taking things like sitz baths (shallow tub of warm water, soaking for 10-15 min a few times a day) can be incredibly helpful in breaking the burning cycle. Gently washing the area in the tub and then patting dry or air drying can help you stay clean without any further irritation.

2. Utilize topical support

Applying a cream or ointment (such as A&D, Aquaphor, Calmoseptine, etc.) can help protect your sore skin from additional damage if you’re finding yourself experiencing burning diarrhea frequently. In my experience, there are many decent options available over the counter, but always check with your doctor before using new medication (topical, oral, or otherwise).

Another option is utilizing a small amount of baby powder, cornstarch, or non-medicated talcum powder to keep the area dry and comfortable.

3. Reduce bowel movements

The last thing I want to deal with when my behind is on fire is continual bowel movements. There is no way it’s not going to make the discomfort and agony worse, and I know my best option is to try to slow or stop my bowels for a period of time.

This is when my doctor would recommend taking an antidiarrheal medication, such as Imodium (available over the counter) or Lomotil (available via prescription). Sometimes it takes more than one dose to feel a noticeable reduction in trips to the restroom, but I almost always find that giving my behind a break is the first step to helping it heal. (Again, please check with your doctor before using a new medication.)

Any tips for the burn?

If you've experienced this feeling, what other things have helped you to relieve your symptoms and also to prevent recurring episodes? I'd love to hear your suggestions below.

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