(Stool Soiling; Fecal Incontinence; Soiling, Stool)
- Most common cause
- When a large amount of hard, dry stool is filling the rectum, over time the child becomes unable to recognize the sensation of fullness and the need to go to the bathroom.
- Liquid stool may leak around the hard mass of stool, causing staining of the underwear.
- May be associated with a diet low in fiber and fluids, and lack of exercise
- Poor toilet training or refusal to use the toilet for bowel movements
- Emotional problems
- Organic causes (rare)—result of problems or malformations in the intestines
|Bowel and Rectum|
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- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of embarrassment, shame, or guilt
- Infrequent bowel movement
- Pain or bleeding with defecation
- Abdominal pain
- Bed wetting
When Should I Call the Doctor?
- Abdominal x-ray —may show excessive stool in the rectum
- Other imaging tests to look for organic causes if the constipation is not relieved with treatment or if your child passes blood with their stool
- Short term treatment with laxatives.
- Long-term treatment (up to 1 year) with miralax, metamucil, or other stool softeners. This can make it easier for your child to pass stool. It may also decrease your child's reluctance to pass stool.
- Eat a healthy diet that is high in fiber .
- Drink plenty of liquids.
- Has severe problems with toilet training
- Has emotional problems (including family problems)
- Is experiencing shame, guilt, or low self-esteem due to fecal incontinence
American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org/
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse http://www.niddk.nih.gov/
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation http://www.cdhf.ca/
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/
Encoporesis. Nemours kids health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/sick/encopresis.html . Updated January 2012. Accessed August 9, 2012.
Fecal soiling. American Academy of Pediatrics Helath Children website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/sick/encopresis.html . Updated May 2011. Accessed August 9, 2012.
Fecal incontinence in children (encopresis). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . May 11, 2012. Accessed August 9, 2012.
Stool soiling and constipation in children. American Family Physician Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/kids/toileting/stool-soiling-and-constipation-in-children.html . Updated November 2011. Accessed August 9, 2012.
- Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
- Review Date: 12/2013 -
- Update Date: 00/11/2014 -