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Why is my poop yellow and brown when I wipe?


The color of your poop can indicate a lot about your health. Poop that is yellow or brown when wiping can be normal, but it can also signify an underlying issue. Some common causes of yellow or brown poop include:

  • Diet – Eating certain foods can change the color of your stool. Foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, turmeric, and artificial food coloring can make poop appear more yellow or orange.
  • Medications – Some medications like Pepto-Bismol can make poop look darker brown or black. Antacids with aluminum hydroxide can make poop chalky white.
  • Lack of bile – Bile helps digestion and gives poop its normal brown color. Gallbladder issues, liver disease, or blockage of bile ducts can prevent bile release, causing pale or clay-colored stool.
  • Intestinal conditions – Health issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, and pancreatic cancer can affect digestion and lead to yellow stool.
  • Infection – Bacterial infections from salmonella, E. coli, and giardia can cause yellow poop and diarrhea.
  • Colon cancer – One symptom is yellow poop caused by blocked bile ducts.

If your poop is frequently yellow, greasy, foul smelling, or floats, see your doctor. This can indicate an infection, poor nutrient absorption, or other issues. But in general, yellow or brown poop is very common and usually not a major concern. Keep reading to learn why poop can look yellow or brown when wiping and what you can do about abnormal stool colors.

What Gives Poop its Normal Brown Color?

Poop gets its normal light or dark brown color from bile. Bile is a digestive fluid produced in your liver and stored in your gallbladder. Here’s how bile affects poop color:

  • – Bile contains bilirubin, a pigment that gives bile and poop a brown color.
  • – When food moves through your digestive system, it eventually reaches your small intestine where bile is released to help break down fat.
  • – The leftover bilirubin mixes with feces and bacteria in your intestines, coloring the poop brown.
  • – More bilirubin in your poop leads to a darker brown or even green color.
  • – Without bile, poop would appear pale or clay-colored.

The normal brown color of poop comes specifically from stercobilin. This is a byproduct formed when bilirubin combines with bacteria in the large intestine. So when your poop is brown, it simply means bile and bilirubin are present and mixing properly in your digestive system.

What Causes Yellow Poop?

Here are some common causes of yellow poop:


Eating certain foods can turn poop yellow or orange. This includes:

  • – Carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, turmeric, and other yellow-orange foods
  • – Curries or curry powder
  • – Artificial food coloring like carotene in macaroni and cheese
  • – Excessive vitamin C supplements
  • – Spinach, kale, collard greens, and other green leafy vegetables contain chlorophyll that can make poop green.

In most cases, diet-related yellow poop is normal and will return to its regular brown color once you stop eating the culprit foods. But if it persists for over a week, see your doctor.


Some medications turn poop yellow or pale. These include:

  • – Antacids containing aluminum hydroxide like Maalox or Mylanta
  • – The ulcer medication Pepto-Bismol contains bismuth subsalicylate that turns poop black
  • – Certain laxatives with senna, rhubarb, or cascara
  • – Multivitamins with high vitamin C or iron content
  • – The antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline

Medication-related yellow poop should clear up after you finish the prescription. If it persists, talk to your pharmacist or doctor about switching medications.

Lack of Bile

Problems with bile release can inhibit the brown color change and result in yellow poop. Issues include:

  • – Gallstones blocking bile ducts
  • – Gallbladder inflammation or infection
  • – Removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy)
  • – Liver diseases like hepatitis, cirrhosis, or cancer
  • – Liver injury from alcohol abuse
  • – Tumors obstructing bile ducts
  • – Parasitic infection of bile ducts from giardia or worms

If you have yellow stool along with symptoms like abdominal pain, fever, nausea, or jaundice, see a gastroenterologist. You may need imaging tests to examine your bile ducts and liver.

Intestinal Conditions

Digestive disorders that affect nutrient absorption or intestinal inflammation can also lead to yellow poop. For example:

  • – Celiac disease – Gluten intolerance causes inflammation in the small intestine.
  • – Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – Chronic intestinal spasms prevent proper bile mixing.
  • – Crohn’s disease – Chronic inflammation causes diarrhea with pale or yellow stool.
  • – Cystic fibrosis – Thick mucus blockages lead to yellow diarrhea.
  • – Short bowel syndrome – Reduced surface area for nutrient absorption after intestine removal surgery.
  • – Whipple procedure – Removal of pancreas head inhibits enzyme release needed for bile breakdown.
  • – Pancreatic cancer – Tumors block pancreatic ducts, preventing enzyme and bile release.

See a gastroenterologist for yellow stool with diarrhea, weight loss, or malnutrition symptoms. You may need testing for nutrient deficiencies, colon cancer, or other intestinal problems.


Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections that cause diarrhea or stomach pain can also lead to yellow poop. For example:

  • – Salmonella
  • – Giardia
  • – E. coli
  • – Norovirus
  • – Clostridium difficile (C. diff)
  • – Campylobacter
  • – Rotavirus
  • – Ascariasis (roundworm)
  • – Cryptosporidium
  • – Hookworm

Infections spread through contaminated food or water. Yellow diarrhea may clear up on its own, but some require prescription antibiotics or antiparasitic medications. See a doctor if symptoms last over 3 days.

New Medications

Starting a new medication can sometimes cause temporary yellow poop as your body adjusts. Antibiotics in particular can disrupt gut bacteria needed to create stercobilin. If yellow poop persists for more than a week after starting a new medication, consult your doctor.

Colon Cancer

One symptom of colon cancer is pale or yellow stool caused by a tumor blocking the bile ducts. See your doctor immediately if you have:

  • – Persistent yellow poop with no infection or diet cause
  • – Pencil-thin stools
  • – Fatty, foul-smelling poop
  • – Unexplained weight loss
  • – Bleeding from the rectum
  • – Abdominal pain
  • – Anemia

You’ll need a colonoscopy to check for tumors or polyps in your colon.

What Makes Poop Turn Brown?

While yellow poop means a lack of bile, brown poop indicates your bile ducts and digestive system are working normally. Here are some reasons poop may appear a darker brown:


Dark brown or black poop can be caused by eating:

  • – Black licorice
  • – Blueberries
  • – Iron supplements or foods high in iron
  • – Activated charcoal

Dark poop from diet is harmless and should resolve once you stop eating the food.


Over-the-counter Pepto-Bismol contains bismuth subsalicylate that turns poop black. This is a harmless side effect that will go away after you stop taking the medication.

Iron Supplements

Iron supplements can turn poop black as sulfur compounds in your gut react with iron. Reduce your dosage if this bothers you. But black stool alone is not a reason to stop taking iron supplements.

Bleeding in the Upper GI Tract

The stomach ulcer medication Pepto-Bismol can also turn poop black. This is harmless and clears up after stopping the medication.

Dark or black poop can also signify bleeding in the upper GI tract, such as:

  • – Gastritis
  • – Peptic ulcer
  • – GERD (acid reflux)
  • – Hiatal hernia
  • – Esophageal varices

Other symptoms include vomiting red blood or coffee ground-textured material. See a doctor immediately if you have maroon or black stool and abdominal pain, bloody vomit, lightheadedness, or chest pain.

Lower GI Bleeding

Very dark brown or black poop can indicate bleeding from hemorrhoids or a tear in the anus. Blood from these lower GI issues turns poop black as it travels through and is digested in the intestines.

Other causes of black stool from lower GI bleeding include:

  • – Diverticulosis
  • – Colon polyps
  • – Colitis
  • – Colon cancer

See a doctor for black poop along with symptoms like dizziness, weakness, abdominal pain, or rectal pain. You may need an endoscopy, colonoscopy, or CT scan to diagnose the bleeding source.

When to See a Doctor

Yellow or brown poop is usually harmless, but see your doctor if it’s accompanied by these symptoms:

  • – Persistent diarrhea or yellow poop for over 3 days
  • – Severe pain in the abdomen or rectum
  • – Fever over 101 F (38.3 C)
  • – Pencil-thin stools
  • – Unexplained weight loss
  • – Black or bloody poop
  • – Vomiting red blood or coffee grounds
  • – Fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness

Yellow poop with diarrhea may be caused by infections that require antibiotics. Persistent yellow stool can signify gallbladder or liver problems. And black poop could indicate bleeding that needs prompt treatment.

See a gastroenterologist if you have chronic yellow or black poop along with severe pain. You may need testing such as:

  • – Blood tests to check for infections or inflammation
  • – Stool sample testing for bacteria, parasites, blood, or fat
  • – Abdominal CT scan or MRI to see bile ducts and other internal organs
  • – Endoscopy to check for ulcers, cancers, polyps, or bleeding
  • – Colonoscopy to examine your colon and rectum
  • – ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) to view bile ducts
  • – Liver biopsy to diagnose cirrhosis, cancer, or hepatitis

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause. For example, antibiotics for infections, steroids for inflammatory bowel disease, surgery to remove polyps or tumors, or medications to treat liver disease.

Tips for Healthy Poop

To maintain normal poop color and texture:

  • – Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • – Eat more fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
  • – Try probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, or kombucha.
  • – Limit fatty, sugary, processed foods that can disrupt digestion.
  • – Don’t hold in poop when you feel the urge to go.
  • – Exercise regularly to stimulate the digestive system.
  • – Reduce stress through yoga, meditation, or relaxation techniques.

If diet and lifestyle changes don’t resolve abnormal poop colors, see your doctor to rule out underlying illness. Tracking the shades of brown in your poop can give you a picture of your overall digestive health.


Yellow or brown poop is typically nothing to worry about and has several common causes. Diet, supplements, medications, bile issues, intestinal problems, infections, and bleeding can all change stool colors. While abnormal poop can signal a health problem, it’s often just a harmless reaction that clears up on its own. But see a doctor if you have chronic colored poop along with concerning symptoms like consistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, or bleeding. With prompt diagnosis, many causes of yellow or brown poop can be easily treated. Pay attention to the colors and textures of your poop as an indicator of overall digestive health.


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