Green, Black, Yellow, Red & White: What Your Poop Color Means

Medical review: Dr. Clarisse Bezerra
Family Doctor
January 2022

Poop color, shape and consistency normally reflect ​the quality of your diet. These characteristics can fluctuate based on the types of food you eat. Changes in color, however, can also indicate intestinal issues or disease, like hepatitis or a gastric ulcer.

In normal situations, stool is usually a brownish color. It should not be too dark nor too light. Some fluctuations in color can occur depending on the food your eat and may not indicate anything serious, as long it does not last for more than 3 days. 

If a change in stool color lasts for over 3 days, you should consult your family doctor or a gastroenterologist to assess for any problems and initiate appropriate treatment as necessary. 

1. Green poop

Green poop occurs commonly when intestinal function and movement is too fast. Biliary salts do not reach the stool in time, leading to inadequate digestion. This can happen during times of stress, diarrhea caused by a bacterial infection or with irritable bowel syndrome flare-ups. 

A dark green color can also appear with the consumption of green vegetables like spinach, or with iron supplementation. Green poop is also often seen in newborns.

What to do: You should assess whether you recently ate green vegetables or are taking a multivitamin with iron. If none of these apply, you should consult a doctor, especially if the green stool persists for over 3 days.

2. Black poop

Dark or black stools are usually accompanied by an odor that is much more foul than usual. It can be a sign of bleeding somewhere along the digestive tract, like an ulcer or esophageal varices. Dark stool can also be a result of iron supplementation. 

What to do: If you are not taking supplements or multivitamins with iron, you should see a doctor as soon as possible or go to the emergency room, particularly if you have symptoms like fever, excessive fatigue or vomiting.

3. Yellow poop

This type of poop is normally a sign of difficulty with fat digestion. It can be related to problems that reduce the capacity of fat absorption in the intestines, like Celiac disease. It can also be a result of decreased enzyme production in the pancreas, which can indicate a problem with this organ.

Yellow poop can also occur with intestinal infections, and can be accompanied by other symptoms like fever, diarrhea, and stomach ache.

What to do: You should observe other characteristics of your stool, like the consistency and shape. If changes lasts for over 3 days, you should see a doctor to identify the problem and initiate appropriate treatment. 

4. Red poop

This color of poop indicates the presence of blood in the stool. It occurs frequently with hemorrhoids, but can also occur due to infections, inflammatory disease (like Crohn's or ulcerative colitis) or more serious illness like cancer. 

What to do: If you have scant amounts or streaks of blood in your stool, you should see your doctor for assessment. However, with bright red blood in the entire stool or active anal bleeding, you should proceed immediately to the emergency room for diagnosis and to start appropriate treatment. 

5. White Poop

Light-colored or white stool can occur if the body is experiencing problems with digesting fat. This can occur with liver disease or with problems in the bile ducts. 

What to do: You should consult your doctor or gastroenterologist to order testing like CT or ultrasound to diagnose the problem and start adequate treatment.

What your baby’s poop color means

Poop color in newborn babies is usually dark green in color and is very sticky and stringy. It is usually called meconium. During the first days of life, the color gradually becomes greener, lighter and turns yellow, depending on the fat and water content in the milk consumed. Generally, stools are more watery and slightly granulated in texture.

During the first 15 days of life, it is normal for babies to have 8 to 10 liquid stools per day, or even every time they nurse. When the mother is constipated, it is possible for the baby it also experience constipation. When they do have a bowel movement, the stool is usually more jelly-like and granulated.

At 6 months, or whenever the baby has a more varied diet, stool will change again in color and consistency. Poop will appear more similar to that of a child or adult in terms of color, consistency and smell. This is because the baby's ability to digest becomes more complex and the the food that is eaten becomes more similar to the family's rest.

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Atualizado por Tua Saude editing team, em January de 2022. Medical review por Dr. Clarisse Bezerra - Family Doctor, em January de 2022.
Medical review:
Dr. Clarisse Bezerra
Family Doctor
Dr. Bezerra possesses a medical degree and specializes in family medicine. She is licensed to practice under CRM-CE licence #16976.