Diet, bowel movements, and sexual activity can all affect your rectum health. Something we don’t often consider, though, is how we wash our asses. Over wiping can hurt, but soaps can, too—especially scented ones. Here’s how to wash your ass, according to the experts.
How to wash your ass the right way
The number of times you clean your butt and what you use to do it can cause terrible conditions like itching, abscesses, and anal fissures. Dr. Navya Msyore, a primary care physician, mentions anal health as one of the most commonly discussed topics with her patients, because, unfortunately, most people don’t realize they’re cleaning their asses wrong.
“Keeping it simple is the best way to do it,” says Dr. Msyore, “lukewarm water to wash the area, and definitely make sure to wash the area once a day.” If you’re not going to get into the shower, a warm washcloth or a plain wipe with warm water will get the job done. It’s important that the wipe or cloth is unscented though, and doesn’t have any chemicals or perfumes that can irritate the rectum.
Why you shouldn’t use soap in between the cheeks
Basically, soap can dry out your anus, causing irritation, as Dr. Msyore explains. “When we irritate the skin, it can get small little micro-tears in the area,” she said. “When that happens, you can potentially get an infection.” Instead, if you want to use soap, do it only once or twice a week, and use a mild soap without any fragrances or additives. You should still wash your ass every day, just mostly with water alone.
How to wipe your butt, and when to stop wiping
One of the biggest factors in anal hygiene is how you’re wiping, and the amount and harshness of your wipe.
“One of the major risk factors for UTIs is by wiping in the wrong direction,” says Dr. Msyore. “You’re actually bringing a lot of the fecal bacteria that is there into the genitals, and the genital area can then get infected.” Wiping front to back moves the fecal bacteria away from the genitals, which is what you want.
At the same time, excessive wiping can be just as detrimental. Similar to the way soap dries out the anus, over wiping can irritate the skin and cause small tears or anal fissures. Dr. Msyore mentions that wiping anywhere from six to ten times is considered excessive, depending on how much toilet paper you use.
Why you should get a hose attachment for your bidet
A bidet seems like the logical solution, but Dr. Msyore explains how bidets come with different features that can also irritate the skin, including perfumes and varying water pressures, some of which can spray with an excessive water pressure that can spread fecal matter. The spray can “similarly put you at risk for UTIs if bacteria is being spread to other areas,” she says. The trick is to use bidets with a handheld hose to control the water pressure and direction of the flow.