Burning diarrhea can be uncomfortable. While it’s usually nothing to worry about, understanding the cause can help you find relief.

Diarrhea is when you have loose, watery stools at least three times in a day. In some cases, it may also be accompanied by other symptoms, like pain or a burning sensation. When that happens, it may be referred to as burning diarrhea.

There are a number of reasons you might experience burning diarrhea. It’s always a good idea to get checked by a doctor whenever you notice a difference in your bowel habits. Working with your doctor to determine the cause of burning diarrhea can help you understand how to treat it.

Skin irritation

Diarrhea itself can lead to skin irritation or a rash on your bottom. It can also leave you sore from too much wiping. This can contribute to a burning sensation every time you go.

Injury or tearing

In some cases, passing stool can lead to tearing, also known as an anal fissure. This can cause a painful or burning sensation during a bowel movement.

While often associated with constipation, anal fissures are also linked to persistent diarrhea.


Chronic constipation or diarrhea can also lead to hemorrhoids, which are inflamed veins on your anus or rectum. Irritation of these veins can make you feel burning and pain during bowel movements.

Spicy foods

Spicy foods like peppers contain capsaicin. This naturally occurring compound is the same stuff you find in pepper spray, mace, and topical pain medications. It burns on contact.

Eating a lot of peppers or spicy foods can give you a number of symptoms, including burning diarrhea. If you experience burning diarrhea, think about what you’ve eaten recently.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that affects the bowels in a variety of ways. One type, known as IBS-D, is associated specifically with diarrhea, which can also cause discomfort and burning.

Burning diarrhea may also come with other symptoms, like:

Discuss any changes in bowel movements with your doctor. Sharing the exact symptoms you’re experiencing can help your doctor determine the underlying cause and proper treatment.

In many cases, burning diarrhea is a temporary condition that will respond well to lifestyle changes and over-the-counter treatments. These strategies may help:

  • Limit or cut back on foods that can make diarrhea worse, like spicy foods, milk, and other dairy products.
  • Keep a food diary to note potential food triggers.
  • Eat regular, small meals when you’re experiencing diarrhea.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Soak in warm water or a sitz bath to alleviate discomfort.
  • Cleanse area with water only. Don’t use harsh soaps or wipes.
  • When wiping or drying off, pat the area without rubbing.
  • Avoid irritating clothing and opt for cotton underwear.
  • Use over-the-counter (OTC) ointments to ease discomfort, burning, and itching.
  • Consider taking OTC pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to temporarily relieve pain.
  • Ask your doctor about antidiarrheal medications and how to take them correctly.

Be sure to call your doctor whenever you notice a change in your bowel habits. Many things that cause burning diarrhea are temporary and can be treated at home.

Still, underlying health conditions like IBS may be contributing to symptoms and require specialized treatment.

If symptoms last for more than 2 days, check in with your doctor. Also, call your doctor if you experience:

  • bleeding from your rectum
  • progressively worse abdominal pain, especially at night
  • unexplained weight loss

At your appointment, your doctor will likely ask you for your medical history and a description of any of the symptoms you’re having. Try to be as specific as possible. It might even help to write down your concerns before your appointment.

Tests may include the following:

  • Stool tests: This involves providing a stool sample so your doctor can test it for bacteria and parasites.
  • Blood tests: Bloodwork may be done to check for things like infection or anemia and other deficiencies.
  • Digital rectal exam: During this type of exam, your doctor will insert a gloved and lubricated finger into your rectum. The doctor will feel around for growths, lumps, or anything else that might indicate you need further testing.
  • Visual inspection: Some things, like internal hemorrhoids, aren’t easy to see with the naked eye. Your doctor may use an anoscope, proctoscope, or sigmoidoscope to get a better look at your colon.
  • Colonoscopy: Your doctor may want to examine your entire colon using a colonoscope, especially if you’re over age 50.

Burning diarrhea is uncomfortable and may even worry you. The good news is that it can often be treated at home with lifestyle modifications and OTC treatments.

If you have concerns about your bowel habits, call your doctor to get it checked out. You can book an appointment with a gastroenterologist in your area using our Healthline FindCare tool.