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What causes pale coloured stools / poo?

If you are reading this article there is a very good chance that you found it via my original article that was called Have you examined your stools / poo lately? That article has attracted a vast amount of views, so proving that many people are worrying about unusual aspects of their stools or poo, be it the colour, the consistency or the regularity. Because of the popularity of that article I rapidly realised that thousands of people are too shy, self conscious or too embarrassed to feel comfortable talking face to face with other people about their bowel movements, (ironic when you consider how many people are totally comfortable talking about farts and breaking wind). Apparently the fear extends even to the point that a trip to the doctor is only a last resort, and then only if a trip to the Internet has given the individual affected a good reason to believe such a trip is necessary in order to preserve their health. If you are reading this I am assuming that your problem is that your stools or poo (whichever term you prefer), have changed to a pale, clay or even beige colouring, and that you want to know why this has happened and if you should be worried about it.

The Causes of Pale or Clay Coloured Stools / Poo

Stools that are pale in colour, or even clay / beige coloured would naturally cause concern when you are used to seeing a brown stool arriving in your toilet bowl. The following is a list of reasons that might explain why your brown bowel movements have changed to this insipid and unhealthy looking colour instead.

  • A lack of bile or a blockage in the bile ducts can cause pale or clay coloured stools (acholic being the correct medical term for pale coloured stools)
  • If your digestive system is unable to absorb fats properly it can also cause 'greasy' stools that are pale in colour
  • Side effects from medicines such as antibiotics
  • Liver infections
  • Liver disease (look out for jaundice which will appear in the form of yellowing skin and yellow whites to the eyes. Seek urgent medical attention if you see evidence of jaundice)
  • Tumours
  • Alcoholic Hepatitis
  • Strictures
  • Sclerosing cholangitis
  • Viral Hepatitis
  • Cysts of the bile ducts
  • Strictures or narrowing of the bile ducts
  • Gallstones
  • Use of antacids that contain aluminum hydroxide
  • Congenital birth defects in the biliary system
  • Eating high amounts of fatty foods

Disclaimer: Please remember to treat this article as a guideline only. If you are worrying about the fact your stools / poo appear to have become pale, clay or even beige in colour, then I would strongly advise a trip to your Doctor in order to give you peace of mind based on a sound medical diagnosis, as opposed to Internet based information.

Other Unusual Coloured Stools / Poo articles by mistyhorizon2003

  • What causes yellow stools / poo?
    If you are reading this then it is probably because you want to know what causes your stools / poo to turn yellow. There are a number of reasons this can happen, and this article aims to provide you with a list of possible reasons for your yellow sto
  • What causes black or red stools / poo?
    For you to be reading this you are probably concerned about the fact you have started passing black or red stools (poo). Maybe your stools even seem to have blood in them. This article is written with the intention of telling you what might be causin
  • What causes green stools / poo?
    So you want to know why your stools / poo have turned green, but you are not quite ready to face the embarrassment of going to a Doctor to have this investigated further. This article will give you a break down of many of the possible causes of green
  • What causes orange stools / poo?
    If you have noticed that your stools / poo have suddenly begun to come out orange, and you are wondering what the possible causes of this might be, then this is the article for you. It covers a number of causes for your bowel motions to be orange in


Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 27, 2015:

Hi Red, I would guess that the colour and consistency of your stools is due to the yogurt you have been eating. If they haven't returned to normal within a couple of days of you bring on a normal diet again I would suggest a visit to your doctor (take a stool sample with you to allow it to be checked out).

red on April 27, 2015:

I have had food poisoning the past four days with very bad diarrhea to the point of the just a liquid bowel movements, yesterday and today i ate greek yogurt to try to pull my bowels back together. And now ive had softer stool but clay colored and beige... should i be worried or could this just be a side effect of my body getting realighned after such a system shock?? Im 27 and don't show any sign of these diseases that accompany these stool characteristics. ..

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 13, 2014:

Good luck Henrik, I hope they find out the cause for you soon.

Henrik on April 13, 2014:

Hi, I've been having thin yellow/beige stools for about 4-5 months now. Sometimes i also see mucus in my stool. It was hell when it all started, i could go to the bathroom up to 10 times on a day and it was always mucus in the stool. Sometimes when i had to go only mucus came out, very strange. I got it after use of antibiotics. I've done all the blood tests that can be done, they have checked all my organs, my anus, tests for cancer, infections, inflammatory diseases, bacteria, parasites, celiac, thyroid function and much more. They can't find anything. Im not having any pain but i have to go to the toilet between 2-5 times a day. Ive been looking for answers for so long now im getting crazy about this. Im much better since it all started so I hope I'll be totally healed one day since im only 22 years old.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 09, 2013:

Glad you found this helpful Carter, I am sure the doctor can confirm if it is your medication that has caused this.

Carter on May 09, 2013:

Thank you for this very imformative article! Every morning for the past five days I have beige-colored stool and I kept wondering if there was something different in my diet. I got anxious so I searched online, stopped at this article, and the next thing I figured out is my propranolol medication is probably causing it. Calling my doctor about it. Thanks!

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 23, 2012:

Scroll to Continue

Thanks RiCk, I appreciate your feedback :)

RiCk on April 23, 2012:

Very informative set of articles Misty, Thanks for taking the time and sharing !

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 19, 2012:

I totally agree kelleyward, and thanks for your input :)

kelleyward on January 19, 2012:

You and Dr. Oz are bringing new knowledge to what happens in the toliet. Thanks for the info. As a nurse I know that one time of light colored stools doesn't mean anything its when it happens frequently that one needs to be more concerned.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 07, 2012:

I would always suggest 'giving it a couple of days', before worrying too much. Sounds like what you have drunk explains your stool colour.

Lauren on January 07, 2012:

Yesterday morning I had a normal colored bowel movement. Later in the morning I had on an empty stomach a large cafe latte. When I got home from my friends house and went to the bathroom my stool was very light beige just the the color of my latte. I thought that could be why, but today I had another one that color. Possibly a little darker but not much. Still very beige. Should I be concerned or give it a couple of days. I have no other symptoms. Thanks

takingcontrol on November 13, 2011:

Thank you. That brings some relief! :)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 13, 2011:

Hi There 'takingcontrol', this could be as a result of a sudden diet change, but I can't be certain. It would be quite a concidence for your stools to change colour at the same time as a major diet change I have to say. I would give it a few days to see if the colour normalises again, and if not go and see a Doctor to be on the safe side.

takingcontrol on November 12, 2011:

It's 11/13/11 and a few days ago I started a healthy diet and stretching program before I plan to start really working out. (i'm an almost 39 year old female, by the way). I omitted all unnatural sugars, white breads, pasta etc from my diet and have been eating nothing but wheat bread with sliced turkey with dijon mustard for taste, a few spoonfuls of cottage cheese, a few spoonfuls of a cheese/broccoli mix, apples, bananas, grapes, diet green tea with ginsing, fish, chicken breast and a small amount of baked lays potato chips. I eat every 3 hours (the normal breakfast, lunch and dinner and then some fruit for in between 'snacks' if I need it).

I've always had darker stools, but the last two days I noticed my poop has been getting lighter. Today it was almost... sandy looking and a very pale light grey, almost whitish looking at the end. I read the reasons why and couldn't possibly think any of those are happening to me. Is it because of my diet change? I just dove right in to it and used to eat nothing but starchy, sugar filled, junk food and snacks and red meat and beef constantly.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 07, 2011:

LOL Hubert, that sounds truly gross.

Pleased the articles are already proving useful though.

Hubertsvoice on November 07, 2011:

Amen to the expensive medication. The articles are already useful. My wife is always asking about poop color and why one of her family has a different color poop. Your article and the one by james watkins inspired my poetic entry today. It's entitled Poop Soup.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 07, 2011:

Thanks Hubertsvoice, I hope each of these articles comes in useful to you, and maybe even helps you to avoid some of those expensive medications :)

Hubertsvoice on November 07, 2011:

Misty each one of your articles on the color of poo has been appreciated by me and accepted as needed information, because of the amount a variety of medications doctors prescribe for me. The internet does provide more info like this and cheaper too. I could not resist all the crappy jokes, though. Thank you for the articles.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 06, 2011:

I think the Doctors get just as embarrassed as the patients about broaching the subject Bob. They so need to take this more seriously as the stool can answer lots of questions as to certain symptoms people are experiencing and what is causing them.

LOL re-your last comment. If I passed '5 or 6 healthy floaters' all at once I would lose half my body weight. I think 1 - 2 is about my maximum, and they don't always float, (it depends largely on what you have been eating as opposed to your health as to whether they 'sink or swim').

diogenes from UK and Mexico on November 06, 2011:

Evidently, many people have worms and things like nematodes, etc., they don't know about. The bowel is definitely ignored by NHS doctors.

...and is there any greater joy than a good healthy dump of 5 or 6 healthy 'floaters? We have a common interest, Missy! Bob

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 06, 2011:

Hi Bob, it is a sensitive subject that needs to be talked about more I agree. Not sure the German idea sounds very appealing though, I hope that is in private homes and not public toilets, as the idea of people in public loos probing their poo is not pleasant. Glad you liked the hub and thanks for the feedback :)

diogenes from UK and Mexico on November 06, 2011:

Yes, I quite agree, Misty, people shy away from talking about their emmisions in the UK and the States. In some more enlightened countrie, such as Germany, the toilets are designed so that the stools fall on a ledge and can be probed and examined before being flushed. Constipation, for example, is one of the largest "silent" (ahem) killers we suffer from. Very good hub. Bob

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