The use of only tissue paper to clean up after defecating is highly unhygienic. Tissue paper does not and cannot completely remove poo from your bum area no matter how hard you wipe. Tissue paper only removes the major portion of the poo. It moves and spreads the remnants of the poo over your bum area and deposits them with the microbes in the openings in the skin. Some of the conditions that may get aggravated by use of toilet paper include rectal itching, hemorrhoids, anal fissure, fistula, abscess and pilonidal cyst.

Wiping aggressively with tissue paper could create anal fissures, haemorrhoids in the rectum or fissures in the bum area and the fissures created could be infected by the microbes in the feaces. Excessive wiping could cause other health problems like urinary track infections. It has been estimated that there are nearly 100 billion bacteria per gram of wet stool. (The Conversation).      

Rose George, a freelance journalist in Yorkshire, the author of The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters, told Tonic why using toilet paper doesn’t remove feaces like it should. She said: “I find it rather baffling that millions of people are walking around with dirty anuses while thinking they are clean,”.  “Toilet paper moves sh*t, but it doesn’t remove it.”

A simple nasty experiment to show that the use of only tissue paper to clean up after defecating is this: Get a small portion of your poo and place it gently on any part of your arm. Then, try and clean it off your arm using only tissue paper. When you’re done cleaning, try and smell that part of your arm. You may want to try it. No matter how hard you try cleaning the poo off your arm, that part of your arm would still be smelly of the poo. The tissue paper would only move and spread the remnants of the poo over the area and deposit them with the microbes in the openings in the skin.

This is what happens when you wipe only with tissue paper after defecating. Your bum and the surrounding area would smell terribly bad throughout the day. Unfortunately, your bum and the surrounding area is not normally well aerated compared with other parts of the body. The stagnated air in your pant, the remnants of the poo in you bum and the surrounding area and the microbes in the poo would set up chemical reactions under your pant. Some of the contents of the chemical reactions are airborne and they are taken by the air to your reproductive organs.

Reproductive organs should always breathe in fresh air at all times especially the female reproductive organs. The female reproductive organs breathing in contaminated air or airborne microbes are susceptible to infections. This could actually lead to vaginal odour. 

Wiping with only tissue paper after defecating has become a culture in many societies around the world such that even the elites in such societies see nothing wrong in the unhygienic act. Dr Phillip Buffington, the chief medical officer of The Urology Group in the US said: “Think about using dry toilet paper. You’re leaving a residue of stool and bacteria, whereas if you’re using a bidet, you’re washing that away,”.

Dr Allen Kamrava, a California-based colorectal and general surgeon, in Healthline said: “As a result, those who wash or use the bidet “are much less likely to have issues with rashes and discomfort and irritation,”. Dr Ekwaro Obuku, president of Uganda Medical Association advocates the use of both toilet paper and water for cleaning.

Much to the surprise of Americans, Dr Evan Goldstein, a rectal surgeon in New York City, told Insider during ButtCon (basically Comic-Con, but with butts) that washing with water is actually the ideal way to clean yourself after using the bathroom for a number of reasons. He explained that washing with water (and soap, specially when it’s a number two!) thoroughly cleans the area of any trace of feaces. Finishing that off with a wipe of tissue paper to dry, leaves our backsides feeling cleaner and fresher after every poop! He explained.

Besides being a better cleaning agent all-around, Dr Evan also states that only wiping your bum using tissue can actually lead to injuries. He explained to Insider that the skin on the anus is quite thin and delicate. On top of that, dry toilet paper can be abrasive. This is why wiping too many times, or any harsh action could lead to painful tears (and tears!) and bleeding.

The ideal way to clean up after defecating is this: Use tissue paper to wipe off the poo in your bum and the surrounding area first. After this, wash thoroughly your bum and the surrounding area with water and soap. Wash your hands thoroughly with water and soap.  Then, dry your bum and the surrounding area with tissue paper or a towel. 

So, stop using only tissue paper to clean up after defecating. It’s highly unhygienic.

Photo Credit: vircet.com, www.dreamstime.com


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