Drying off and washing your hands thoroughly after a bowel movement are two of the most important ways to prevent odor and the spread of pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria.
Hand washing is also a vital part of bathroom hygiene, the practice of which can prevent the transmission of infectious organisms such as hepatitis A. And despite what some may tell you, there is a wrong and correct way to wash your hands.
For people with hard stools, this would mean rubbing with toilet paper. Others may need alternative methods of cleaning the anus and rectum, including a bidet, syringe, or wet wipes. It can be due to rectal pain, trauma (such as a fissured anus ), surgery, or hemorrhoids .
The right way to clean
After passing your chair comfortably, remember to always clean it from front to back , avoiding skin-to-skin contact with the chair. Simply place your hand behind your back and between your legs, using a large amount of crumpled or rolled toilet paper, and wipe it from the perineum (the space between the genitals and the anus) to the anus and beyond.
Use additional toilet paper swabs as needed until the paper is almost clean. Never rub the perianal area (the skin around the anus), as this can cause microcracks where bacteria can enter.
People who cannot reach the back of their back (due to weight, injury, or arthritis) can run their hand between their legs wiping from front to back rather than back to front.
Wiping from front to back is especially important for women as it prevents stool from entering the urethra (the opening through which urine leaves the body). Accidental exposure to feces is one of the leading causes of urinary tract infections in women.
If exposed, gently rinse the urethral area with cool water. However, do not spray water with a strong hose or shower, as this can cause germs to travel up the urethra. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids for the next few days to flush any remaining bacteria from your urinary tract.
How to wash your hands
After drying and rinsing well, wash your hands with plenty of soap and water. Washing your hands with antimicrobial medications is helpful, but not necessary.
To wash your hands properly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following steps :
- Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap.
- Lather up by rubbing your hands with soap. Lather with the backs of your hands between your fingers, under your nails, and under your palms.
- Rub for at least 20 seconds. The easiest way to calculate this time is to hum the song "Happy Birthday" twice from beginning to end.
- Rinse your hands well under clean running water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry.
When cleaning is not enough
When diarrhea is persistent or severe, it can be difficult to keep the anus clean, especially if it is sore and red. In such cases, you can use baby wipes or wet wipes, which are gentler on the skin. On the other hand, damp toilet paper or a wet washcloth can usually help.
If even light rubbing is uncomfortable, try using a roll-on syringe (available at most drug stores) to rinse the affected area. Others prefer to use a bidet or hand shower to rinse stool from their skin. Cold or lukewarm water can be especially soothing .
If you have persistent rectal pain between bowel movements, try taking a warm bath. You can add Epsom salts and colloidal oatmeal to help reduce inflammation . However, avoid hot baths as they can dry out your skin and increase pain and itching.
When done, pat the perianal area dry with a soft cloth and air dry. Apply an unscented barrier cream to lock in moisture.
Anal irritation treatment
Rubbing too often or too forcefully can lead to anal itching, a condition also known as anal itching . Anal itching is essentially an inflammatory response caused by stress or damage to the delicate tissues of the perianal region.
In addition to redness and swelling (caused by the dilation of capillaries just below the skin's surface), anal itching is characterized by persistent and sometimes unrelenting itching. Sitting for a long time with harsh soaps or brushing your teeth (known as the itch-scratch-itch cycle) can only make the situation worse.
Home remedies include emollient-rich barrier creams, some of which contain aloe vera , vitamin A, vitamin E, and other anti-inflammatory ingredients. Vaseline is also a good option. The cream is especially soothing before application.
Avoid scented soaps, lotions, toilet paper, and wet wipes, as they can irritate. It is also a good idea to avoid eating chili peppers, curries, or other spicy foods until symptoms disappear .
Over-the-counter gels or creams that contain steroids (such as hydrocortisone ) should only be used under the direction of a doctor.
A doctor should evaluate for persistent itching accompanied by rectal pain or bleeding. Medical causes include yeast infections, prolapsed hemorrhoids, psoriasis, fistulas or abscesses, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and anal cancer.