Perhaps you’re stuck in the middle seat on a long plane ride. Or you’re at an important event like a wedding or a business dinner. Or maybe you’re in a meeting with your boss at work. If you often get diarrhea, it’s easy to worry that it will happen at a bad moment.
Sometimes what’s even harder than the diarrhea is the embarrassment it can cause and the hard-to-shake feeling of not being clean. Luckily, there are a few practical strategies that you can use to stay fresh.
Invest in high-quality wipes. Scratchy TP can feel like sandpaper when you have a sore behind. Instead, stock your bathroom with the soft, high-ply good stuff, or alcohol-free, perfume-free moistened wipes. And remember that wiping too aggressively can irritate sensitive skin.
Keep a private stash. That “gotta go” feeling can strike anywhere, so it’s a good idea to bring an emergency supply of toilet paper or wipes with you to work and on car and plane trips.
“Sometimes just having that kit on hand is enough to offer peace of mind,” says dietitian Niki Strealy, author of The Diarrhea Dietitian.
Soothe your bum. After you clean yourself, apply a skin cream to help avoid further irritation. It should have zinc oxide plus menthol in it. If you can, clean the area with warm water (soap can be irritating) after each bowel movement. If possible, let it air dry but you can pat it dry with toilet paper when that’s not practical.
Keep a wardrobe change handy. Have you ever brought a set of gym clothes or a more comfortable pair of shoes with you to work? Why not keep an extra set of underwear and office attire in your bag (or your car), too? Don’t forget a waterproof, sealable bag to store any soiled clothes in. Cotton underwear is a good choice, as it lets that area breathe.
Have a back-up plan. If you’re attending a major event and can’t risk any leakage, absorbent incontinence pads can be helpful in a pinch, “but only if you have really liquid stools,” Strealy says. Otherwise, “it probably won’t make that much of a difference, and it could make things worse” in terms of skin irritation.
Try using deodorant for your poop. Yes, such a thing exists, and it actually works to help make your bathroom visits less odorous. It’s called internal deodorant, and it’s a pill that you can get without a prescription at drugstores, or you can ask your doctor to provide you with one.