(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
- Sex: male
- Children with emotional problems, such as:
- Passage of firm stool that causes a painful tear or "fissure" at the opening of the anus
- Children who have suffered sexual abuse (according to some researchers)
|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 one 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
FamilyDoctor.org – 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
Encopresis. 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 Health 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 -