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Be Kind to a Sore Behind
When you're trapped on the toilet with hemorrhoids, diarrhea, or constipation, you want soothing supplies nearby. This handy shopping list will ensure you have what you need.
By Madeline R. Vann, MPH
Medically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
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Sooner or later we’re all trapped on the toilet, yearning for relief from a painful posterior.
Constipation, hemorrhoids, and diarrhea are among the usual suspects that can keep you there.
And if you’ve been through this, no doubt you’ve spent some of that bathroom time pondering the supplies you wish you had on hand.
Stocking your bathroom proactively could lead to some relief for future discomfort.
Dermatologist Benjamin Barankin, MD, of the Dermatology Center in Toronto, Canada, provides the list.
Dr. Barankin starts with two things that youshouldn'tbuy: moisturized toilet paper and moisturized wipes. Barankin says you can develop allergies to the toilet paper.
Instead, go for a high-quality, thick, soft toilet paper without any added fragrance or moisture. And while you may ordinarily support recycled goods, be aware that recycled toilet paper tends to be rough on the tush.
As for the moisturized wipes, they also can add to your troubles.
Here are some of the things you may want to consider having on hand in the event that constipation, diarrhea, or hemorrhoids keep you returning to the toilet sometime soon:
- Antibiotic ointment.This is “reasonable to try if skin is sore or pus or odor [is] evident,” says Barankin. But in that case, you should also see your doctor.
- Bidet.This could be a pricey item. But if you have a lot of troubles with elimination, it may not be a bad idea to install one so you can give yourself a gentle, soothing, and sanitary wash after using the toilet.
- Cushioned toilet seat.These are readily available and easy to install. Whether you need one is entirely a matter of personal choice, says Barankin. Some people have plenty of natural cushion, but others may find that sitting for long periods on a hard seat becomes painful.
- Hemorrhoid cream.A medicated cream may be helpful if hemorrhoids are the cause of your troubles.
- Hydrocortisone cream.This is not a bad item to have on hand for red or itchy skin, but you don’t want to use it too often, as it can have a skin-thinning effect. And if the redness or itchiness doesn't resolve quickly, seek medical advice to rule out other conditions.
- Sitz bath.This is a specially shaped basin you fill with warm water and place on the toilet seat. A sitz bath is “soothing to any sore bum area,” says Barankin. However, if you find yourself needing to use it for more than seven days, see a doctor for treatment of possible infection by bacteria or yeast.
- Petroleum jelly.“Plain old Vaseline ointment is a great moisturizer and also inhibits bacteria growth,” says Barankin. A small tub of the stuff should last a long while.
Finally, don’t forget to keep a good supply of basic hygiene items such as hand soap, clean towels, and sanitizing gel. You’ll want to follow up the TLC you show your bottom with a good handwashing regimen.
Handle With Care
Barankin says that most problems actually come from over-cleanliness. Of course, when you are dealing with a situation that is physically unpleasant, cleanliness is desirable. But whatever products you decide to buy, Barankin advises avoiding:
- Wiping too aggressively
- Using harsh, drying soaps in the groin or posterior
- Scrubbing aggressively
- Using any product with fragrance, which can be irritating to sensitive skin
Instead, adopt this basic cleaning routine, whatever the troubles that plague you:
- Use a gentle, moisturizing soap
- Use three-ply, soft toilet paper
- Pat yourself dry rather than rubbing
- Cover sore or very dry areas with a “greasy ointment” like petroleum jelly
Barankin says if your bottom continues to be sore, dry, or chapped after about a week — or shows signs of infection — visit your doctor. Remember, as embarrassing as this may seem to you, your doctor probably has seen it before.
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