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No toilet paper? Health experts say washing may be better than wiping

And you won't have to stand in line to pay for toilet paper, too.

If you aren’t able to find toilet paper in your neighbourhood supermarket owing to the panic buying, it may be a good time to switch to washing instead of wiping.

Although research on which makes a more hygienic method – wiping or washing – is scarce, some experts are advocating the latter. 

"Think about using dry toilet paper. You're leaving a residue of stool and bacteria, whereas if you're using a bidet, you’re washing that away," said Dr Phillip Buffington, the chief medical officer of The Urology Group in the US.

As a result, those who wash or use the bidet “are much less likely to have issues with rashes and discomfort and irritation," said Dr Allen Kamrava, a California-based colorectal and general surgeon, in Healthline.

There’s also the issue of anal tears because not everyone wipes gently with toilet paper. Dr Evan Goldstein, a rectal surgeon in New York City, said in Business Insider Singapore that the most common anus-related injuries are tears caused by improper wiping. 

Those with constipation are susceptible to such tears, he said, as the forcing already puts additional pressure on the anus.

READ: What your poo says about your health

For the vaginal area, washing is also gentler than wiping with dry toilet paper.

As for women who are concerned about disrupting the bacterial balance in the vagina from using the spray from a bidet, Dr Buffington said in Self that this is unlikely to happen unless “it was some sort of high-powered water jet; theoretically, it could shoot up the urethra or cervix,” he said. In which case, don’t use it.

From the environmental perspective, washing also requires less water than wiping. It takes 140 litres of water to make just one roll of toilet paper, according to an article in Scientific American. By contrast, you’ll be using about 500ml of water from the bidet.

Source: CNA/bk