Take a Seat: Toilet Dermatitis is Making a Comeback Among Children

public toilet photo

Image credit: cloneofsnake/Flickr

It's been uncommon in the United States for decades but a new survey suggests that toilet-seat dermatitis, or "poop-on-the-seat" dermatitis, is making a comeback. Dr. Bernard Cohen, director of pediatric dermatology at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, blames harsh cleaners and wooden toilet seats for the recurrence.Dr. Cohen explains that:

Toilet seat dermatitis is one of those legendary conditions described in medical textbooks and seen in underdeveloped countries, but one that younger pediatricians have not come across in their daily practice.

Though the survey was admittedly small—analyzing only five cases—it hints at an alarming trend.

Children can develop irritation and rashes after only a few exposures to seats cleaned with harsh chemicals or wooden seats that have been painted or treated with varnish or lacquer. Usually, the rash is benign and can be cured with topical ointments but, Dr. Cohen said, most physicians don't suspect the cause. Missed and delayed diagnosis, he reported, characterized all of the cases he observed.

"Some of the children in our study," Lead Researcher Ivan Litvinov said, "suffered for years before the correct diagnosis was made."

The research team has a number of suggestions for preventing toilet-seat dermatitis, including: using paper seat covers in public restrooms, replacing wooden seats with plastic ones where possible, cleaning toilet seats and bowls daily, and avoiding the use of harsh cleaners. Instead of store-bought bathroom cleaners, Dr. Cohen and his team suggest rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide—both effective cleaners they say are gentler on the skin.

Read more about toilets:
Pee-Cycling: Green Toilet Idea From Olde Europe
Bidets: Eliminate Toilet Paper, Increase Your Hygiene
Plush Toilet Paper: Soft on Your Butt, Hard on the Environment

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