Sad to say, wiping your behind with toilet paper is a feeble and unsanitary undertaking, because much as we might try, some dry paper is never going to do a truly thorough job of cleaning back there. Worse, besides being powerless against stubborn poop, vigorous wiping with TP can contribute to soreness and even bleeding, an ailment jokingly referred to by some doctors as “polished anus syndrome ” — no, really.
There are some pretty straightforward preventative measures to avoid all this, of course: Installing in-bowl bidets, which are both gentler and more hygienic, or just using paper to make a first pass, then finishing up with some soothing wipes. But assuming you haven’t done that, what should you do in that distressing moment when you notice a blood stain on the toilet paper? Try the following advice from primary care physician Dr. Marc Leavey:
“If the question is bright red blood on toilet paper, there are a few things one has to decide,” he explains. “Is it only because you wiped too hard? If there’s blood mixed in with the stool, then this is a much more significant finding, and you should really be seen by a physician promptly. If there’s no blood on the stool (or in the water) at all, but there’s a bit of blood on the paper, you may have simply wiped too hard.”
Assuming it’s the latter (in which case rushing to a physician is probably unnecessary), what should you do then? “Use a topical hemorrhoidal cream for a day or so to see if it gets better,” Leavey suggests (these creams can also relieve itching, and some form a protective barrier against stool). “You can also use wet wipes, such as baby wipes or special toilet wipes, to be sure that you don’t irritate the rectal area. However, and it’s a big however, if this persists for any more than a day or so, or if there’s blood on the stool, or if the stool itself has a darker color, approaching black or purple — what we commonly call currant jelly stool — then this needs to be seen by a physician as soon as possible. Also, if there’s any abdominal pain or discomfort, or pain when you have a bowel movement, or other changes in bowel function, this should be seen by a physician as soon as possible.”
So while you await the glorious arrival of your bidet, soothe that sore behind with some cream and possibly a few One Wipe Charlies. Unless, of course, there is blood on your stool, in which case, just go to the doctor, dude.