Why Does It Burn When I Poop?

Pain during a bowel movement is common but shouldn't be ignored

If you have ever had a bout of severe diarrhea or eaten too many spicy foods, you may have experienced a burning sensation in your anus while pooping. These aren't the only causes, though. Sometimes, burning in your anus while pooping can be a sign of a more serious medical condition.

If you only experience this occasionally, you probably don't need to be concerned. But if you regularly experience burning during bowel movements, or you are also having other unusual symptoms, you should see a healthcare provider to find a possible cause.

This article will discuss the potential reasons for burning while pooping, when to see a healthcare provider, and how it might be treated.

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Why Does It Burn When I Poop? Possible Causes

There are several reasons for a burning sensation while pooping. Fortunately, most of the time, these causes are treatable.


Diarrhea is loose, watery stool that may occur several times a day. Diarrhea might cause burning and pain, especially if the skin around the anus (the perianal area) becomes irritated.

Symptoms of diarrhea can include:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Going to the toilet more frequently
  • Stools that are loose or watery

Diarrhea is common and could happen for many reasons, such as an infection, food poisoning, before/during a menstrual period, a change in diet, or a stressful event. It may be possible to treat diarrhea at home.

This can include:

  • Avoiding foods that could worsen diarrhea (such as fried foods or greasy foods)
  • Drinking enough water
  • OTC diarrhea medications

When diarrhea goes on for longer than three days or there are symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, or bloody stools, it may be time to see a healthcare provider. They may do testing to look for the cause, which could be a virus or bacterium, or a more long-lasting reason.

Anal Tear

A tear in the skin of the anal canal (called an anal fissure) can be painful and cause a burning sensation while having a bowel movement. The tear can happen while straining to have a bowel movement or passing a hard stool. There are also other reasons and risk factors for anal fissures, and they tend to be common in children.

The symptoms of an anal fissure can include:

  • Bleeding from the rectum, the muscular tube that connects the colon to the anus
  • Pain or burning during bowel movements
  • Pain or tenderness in the anal area
  • Pain that may last for hours after a bowel movement

Treating an anal fissure attempts to relieve the pain and burning while the fissure heals. It can also include treating the reason for the fissure, such as constipation. 

At-home remedies can include:

  • Adding Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to a regular bath or a sitz bath
  • Avoiding wiping after a bowel movement but instead using a bidet or a peri bottle
  • Taking stool softeners to make stools easier to pass
  • Using a sitz bath

Anal fissures are common and they usually heal with treatments at home and don’t happen again. Seeing a healthcare provider when there is pain while having a bowel movement is important for diagnosing an anal fissure as the cause and getting treatment.

Blood in or on the stool is also a reason to see a healthcare provider and to discover that is from an anal tear and not another cause.


Colon cancer and rectal cancer begin with growths on the inner wall of the intestine called polyps. Polyps can grow large and become cancerous. They also may bleed, cause a blockage in the intestine, or grow into other organs.

Pain during a bowel movement can occur with colon or rectal cancer. It may be more common in rectal cancer. 

The symptoms of colon and rectal cancer can include:

  • Anal discharge
  • Blood in or on the stools
  • Change in bowel habits (pooping more or less frequently)
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Growths in the anal canal
  • Pain, irritation, or itching in the anal area
  • Unintended weight loss

Treatments for colon and rectal cancer can include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy. The way the cancer is treated will be tailored to each person, the type of cancer they have, and the stage/extent.

Some people may be concerned that burning while pooping is automatically colon cancer. While it can be a symptom, cancer is not the most common reason. One of the many reasons to see a healthcare provider about burning while pooping is to rule out more serious causes, such as cancer.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and indeterminate colitis) are immune-mediated conditions that cause inflammation in the digestive system and other areas of the body. IBD may cause diarrhea and/or constipation, depending on how the disease is expressing itself. 

There are many symptoms of IBD, which can include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Mouth sores
  • Mucus in the stool 
  • Nausea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Stomach pain
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Urgent bowel movements

Diarrhea, constipation, fissures, and abscesses (walled-off pockets of infection and pus) could all lead to pain while having a bowel movement. For IBD, the goal is to get underlying inflammation under control. This will help prevent complications and some of the symptoms that occur with IBD.

Treatments include medication, lifestyle changes, and complementary therapies. People with IBD should contact a healthcare provider when they notice new symptoms or when symptoms get worse. There could be a need to change medications, increase the dosage or frequency of current medications, or add another medication.

IBD is a lifelong condition, so it’s important to see a gastroenterologist (a specialist in conditions of the digestive system), visiting them on a regular basis, usually yearly or twice yearly when doing well.


Hemorrhoids are a common condition that can lead to pain while going to the bathroom. However, some people with hemorrhoids have no pain. Hemorrhoids occur when the veins in the rectum and/or the anus become swollen and painful. They can bleed and cause discomfort, especially when having a bowel movement or when wiping.

Typical symptoms of hemorrhoids are:

  • Bleeding (blood might be seen on the toilet paper or the stool)
  • Feeling as though there is “something” in the anus or rectum
  • Itching in or around the anus
  • Pain in or around the anus
  • Pain while having a bowel movement
  • Rectal pain

Treating hemorrhoids begins with home and over-the-counter (OTC) remedies to reduce the swelling and the pain. Some of the ways that they may be treated include:

  • Avoiding wiping after a bowel movement but instead using a peri bottle (a water-filled squirt bottle designed to reach the perianal area) or a bidet (a bathroom fixture or toilet attachment that sprays water on the perianal area)
  • OTC creams or ointments to reduce swelling and pain
  • Treating any underlying diarrhea or constipation
  • Using sitz baths (sitting in a shallow pan of warm water for 10 or more minutes)
  • Using medicated wipes or witch hazel after bowel movements

When hemorrhoids don’t respond to any at-home treatments or there is significant pain, blood, or other symptoms, it’s time to see a healthcare provider. They may prescribe stronger creams or ointments than those that are available over the counter or offer other treatment options, such as surgery, if needed.


Proctitis is inflammation in the lining of the rectum. Proctitis can be caused by:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease, specifically Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and genital herpes
  • Food poisoning, including Salmonella, Shigella, and Campylobacter infections
  • Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) infection, which may be related to antibiotic use

Cramping and pain in your anus, rectum, or on the left side of your abdomen are common symptoms of proctitis that may occur while you are pooping. Other symptoms may include:

  • Constantly feeling like you need to have a bowel movement
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Blood in your poop, which may appear bright to dark red or black
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Mucus or pus in your stool

Since proctitis occurs as a symptom of another underlying condition, it tends to get better once the underlying condition is resolved.

If you pass blood, mucus, or pus during a bowel movement or experience severe abdominal pain, be sure to see a healthcare provider right away.


Spicy, acidic foods are one of the most common causes of a burning sensation in your anus while pooping. If your anus burns while you poop, consider what you have been eating.

Chilies are one such food that can result in burning. Chilies contain a chemical called capsaicin. Once consumed, capsaicin binds to pain receptors called TRPV1s, which are found all throughout your body, including your anus. TRPV1 is responsible for telling your brain to feel a burning sensation.

Most of the time, your digestive system will digest the capsaicin long before it reaches your anus. But on occasion, some capsaicin may not fully digest, causing your anus to burn as you have a bowel movement.

Other acidic foods to watch out for include:

  • Lemon and lime
  • Pomegranate
  • Pineapple
  • Blueberries
  • Raw garlic and onions
  • Curry and cloves

If you have recently eaten spicy or acidic food and are experiencing some anal burning, you probably don't need to be concerned. Just try to avoid spicy foods until the burning resolves and drink plenty of water to help your digestive system pass the food.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

An occasional change in bowel habits is common and not usually serious. Adults and children will have diarrhea or constipation every so often. However, there are some signs that are a reason to see a healthcare provider.

Some of the reasons to see a healthcare provider about pain in the anus or with a bowel movement include:

  • Black or tarry stools
  • Bloody stools
  • Constipation that is ongoing (chronic)
  • Diarrhea that goes on for three days or more
  • Lumps or bumps in or around the anus
  • Severe abdominal pain or cramps


While you may not always be able to prevent burning in your anus when you poop, there are a few extra steps you can take to reduce your risk.

If you do happen to enjoy spicy foods, keep in mind that you may occasionally experience a burning sensation in your anus when passing stool. If spicy foods are non-negotiable, you may find that combining them with some starch such as bread or rice helps reduce irritation.

To help prevent anal tears and hemorrhoids, it's important to drink lots of water and include plenty of fiber-rich foods in your diet, such as beans, raspberries, broccoli, and nuts. Eating fiber softens and adds bulk to stools, making them easier to pass and preventing constipation so there is no straining during bowel movements.

Finally, to lower your chances of colorectal cancer, it's important to have regular colorectal cancer screenings beginning at age 45. Additionally, avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol consumption, getting regular exercise, managing your weight, and eating a healthy diet can all help reduce your risk.


There are many common and treatable reasons for burning or pain while pooping, including constipation, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and anal tears. If the pain is persistent or is occurring along with other symptoms, especially bleeding, see a healthcare provider to get a diagnosis and treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it normal for diarrhea to burn?

    Diarrhea itself is not normal, though it is common and can come on for many reasons. It may or may not cause pain or burning. Diarrhea is stool that is moving too quickly through the intestines. You may also feel burning due to irritation of the skin around the anus caused by increased wiping after defecation. 

  • What does IBS poop look like?

    Normal bowel movements are on a spectrum of shapes and sizes. Constipation and diarrhea are on either end of this spectrum and are considered to be outside of what is healthy.

    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause both diarrhea and constipation, so there is no single type of “IBS stool." A healthcare provider can go over the different types of stool, maybe using the Bristol Stool Chart to help you to understand.

  • Does pooping with a hemorrhoid hurt?

    Some hemorrhoids don’t cause any pain but others can be quite painful. Diarrhea or constipation can add to the pain. The pain may be worse during a bowel movement, but it may also hurt at other times, such as when sitting. Pain from hemorrhoids may also last for some time after a bowel movement.

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Amber J. Tresca
Amber J. Tresca is a freelance writer and speaker who covers digestive conditions, including IBD. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 16.