Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What causes a white film to form over feces?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat causes a white film to form over feces?


Why would a person's bowel movements have a thin, white film over them? My feces used to look like this, then it got better - and now it's getting worse again. It makes me think there's something wrong with my intestines, but I don?t want to jump to conclusions...


White film which forms on top of the stool, as opposed to clumps of mucus within the stool, sounds a lot like steatorrhea, or fat in the stools. Other symptoms of steatorrhea may include abdominal pain or cramping, stools which are bulky or float on top of the toilet water, or stools that have a foul smell to them. There are several causes of steatorrhea. Infections with some parasites, such as Giardia, can cause intermittent bloating and steatorrhea. Also any damage to the pancreas can lead to pancreatic insufficiency. Since the pancreas is important in the digestion of fat, this shows up as fat in the feces. Causes of pancreatic insufficiency include cystic fibrosis, gall stones, alcohol, certain medications, and other cause of repeated episodes of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). As always the diagnosis and the management of your particular condition will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Setting up an office visit with your primary care doctor is highly recommended.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.