Healthy Body

How To Choose Between Soft and Strong Toilet Paper, According to an Anal Surgeon

Zoe Weiner

Photo: Getty Images/ Christine von Diepenbroek
Now that the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 is behind us, we no longer have to rely on scooping up whatever's left on the shelf—we've got options when it comes to the type of TP we choose. While there's no clear winner in the battle between soft versus strong, according to an anal surgeon there is a "best" option for getting the job done.

"The strong varieties are often the roughest. So, what you may gain in reducing the chances of leftover lint on your bum, you may lose because they can be more irritating to the delicate skin in this area of the body," says Evan Goldstein, DO, an anal surgeon and the founder of Bespoke Surgical and The Future Method. "But on the other hand, don’t let the word 'soft' mislead you... Soft versus strong isn't as critical as when the toilet paper is thin and rough, where it almost feels like sandpaper—it should really be soft enough to not irritate or tear up your behind."

When it comes to choosing which one is best for your individual bum, Dr. Goldstein suggests taking a few different factors into account: The way you wipe, the consistency and frequency of your bowel movements, and what you want to spend. If you tend to wipe aggressively or have multiple bowel movements throughout the day, for example, you may want to opt for a softer option. That said, "choosing a toilet paper can be situational and specific to the individual's preference, but I find a softer double-ply toilet paper does the trick quite nicely," says Dr. Goldstein. He adds that, though this tends to be the most expensive type of toilet paper, it's also the most durable and the gentlest on your butt.

Arguably more important than the type of toilet paper you're using, though, is how you're actually using it. "You shouldn’t actually be wiping in the first place, but rather you should dab or blot because literal wiping can cause significant irritation" says Dr. Goldstein. "If you know you're an over-wiper, no matter which type of toilet paper you use, you run the risk of developing local tears and irritations in the area."

It's also worth being aware that in particularly messy instances, even the best toilet paper may not cut it. "There are some situations where you should skip wiping altogether and just pop into the shower or bath," says Dr. Goldstein. "If you find yourself constantly wiping and it’s not going anywhere, hop in the shower and use a good exfoliant designed specifically for your butt or some gentle soap. They'll do the trick without being overly abrasive."

Now, the next time you have to panic buy toilet paper (please, universe, don't let there be a next time...) you'll know exactly what kind's worth investing in.


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