How to soften impacted stool


Fecal impaction is a disorder of the digestive tract that is characterized by an abnormal buildup of dry and hard feces in the rectum. It is one of the complications of chronic constipation. What does the stool look like? How to treat it and how to prevent it?

Definition: what is fecal impaction?

The ultimate complication of constipation , fecal impaction is an abnormal concentration of dry, very hard fecal matter that most often accumulates in the rectum , that is, the terminal part of the intestine. It is a serious intestinal pathology which requires prompt medical treatment. False diarrhea or fecal incontinence in a constipated person is often indicative of fecal impaction.

Symptoms: constipation, stomach ache, occlusion …

During a fecal impaction, highly dehydrated stools are very difficult to eliminate naturally and form what can be considered a “plug” . This is often extremely painful constipation, which should prompt consultation. Fecal impaction can manifest as abdominal pain, fake diarrhea, nausea and / or vomiting. In the most severe cases, it induces a bowel obstruction which is accompanied by a retention or urinary incontinence, as well as stirring and / or confusion and even venous thrombosis pelvic.

Fecal impaction is the result of chronic constipation.

Complications of chronic constipation

Complications of chronic constipation include:

  • Swollen veins in the anus (hemorrhoids). An effort to have a bowel movement can cause swelling in the veins of the anus and around the anus.
  • Torn skin in the anus (anal fissure). Hard or bulky stools can cause tiny tears in the anus.
  • Stools that cannot be expelled (faecal impaction). Chronic constipation can cause a build up of hardened stools that get stuck in your intestines.
  • Bowel protruding from the anus (rectal prolapse). An effort to have a bowel movement can cause a small part of the rectum to stretch and protrude from the anus.


Fecal impaction is the result of chronic constipation favored by prolonged immobilization, nervous disorders preventing bowel movement correctly, fiber deficiency or the taking of certain drugs such as anticholinergics, morphinics, calcium channel blockers, or antidepressants for example.

When to consult?

In case of chronic constipation with abnormal occurrence of diarrhea, severe abdominal pain and nausea and vomiting, medical consultation is required, preferably urgently .

Which treatments?

Taken in time, a simple enema can soften the stool to evacuate the fecal by natural means. Untreated, fecal impaction can however lead to intestinal obstruction, which requires emergency surgery .

Natural treatments are often insufficient given the gravity of a fecal impaction.

Natural treatments?

Natural treatments are often insufficient given the gravity of a fecal impaction. However, certain foods such as wheat bran, prunes, mucilage plants (psyllium, agar agar, guar gum), or flax seeds can help fight constipation. Homeopathy can also help, but always in addition to medical care: Plumbum 5CH when constipation is associated with significant abdominal pain and Opium 5CH in the event of very hard stools.

How to care for your child?

Maintain normal evacuation by:


  • If your baby is less than 4 months old: give him twice a day a tablespoon of fruit juice such as orange, plum, pear or grape juice. Increase the amount of juice if it supports it well. Dilute it with water (half juice-half water) until the stools are soft and not painful.
  • If your baby is more than 4 months old: you can introduce fruits such as apricots, peaches, pears or cereals to meals (in the form of purees).
  • Beyond one year: your child must eat a fruit or a vegetable at least five times a day: grapes, dates, plums, figs, fennel, zucchini, etc. You can give him wholegrain with bran, wholegrain cookies, or wholegrain rice.
  • Reduce the consumption of milk, ice cream, chocolate or cheese, an excess of dairy products causes constipation.
  • Your child should drink a lot. He should always eat breakfast with fruit juice.


Popcorn is rich in dietary fiber and is popular with children. Dietary fiber increases the volume of stool.


Do not use a suppository or a thermometer to facilitate the emission of stools, you could injure your child’s anus.

The hygiene of life:

Your child must have regular bowel movements without holding back. You have to offer it to him at a regular time.


The misuse of laxatives is dangerous. Always consult your pediatrician before changing the treatment.

Medication :

If constipation persists despite the advice above, your pediatrician will prescribe medication to soften the stool.

  • There are syrups (for example Gatinar®, Duphalac®) or powders to be diluted (for example Transipeg®, Movicol®) increasing the quantity of water contained in the stools.
  • Your child can take paraffin oil (for example Lansoyl®, Laxamalt®): increase the dose until you get greasy stools.

These drugs are not laxatives that increase the speed of transit, but they are simple emollients that make the stools softer.


It is necessary to soften the stools until liquid stools are obtained so that the child forgets the memory of painful stools and can easily pass his stools. Treatment should continue for several months.

Disimpaction: the enema

When constipation is low with an impaction of stool near the anus, your pediatrician may prescribe an enema to “release” the hard stool plug by making it liquid.

How to proceed ?

The enema comes with a tube attached to a bag:

  • the tube must be introduced through the anus of the child who is lying on the left side
  • inject the liquid by pressing on the sachet
  • ask the child to try to hold the enema as long as possible (several minutes) before going to the toilet: tell him to tighten the buttocks!
  • it is important to repeat the enema for 2 or 3 days so that your child’s intestine is well emptied.

Prevention advice

To prevent the occurrence of fecal impaction, it is best to fight against chronic constipation by adopting a diet rich in fiber (fruits, green vegetables, prunes, cereals, etc.), drinking water rich in magnesium and practicing a regular physical activity . It is also advisable to avoid constipating medication and to go to the toilet at a regular time, giving priority to the hour following the meal.

My advice

Chronic constipation is not trivial and requires regular medical monitoring and possibly the advice of a gastroenterologist.