Do Light-Colored Stools Indicate A Serious Disease?

Light-colored stools
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ola Tarabzuni


White-colored stools, also called clay or pale-colored stools, can indicate the dysfunctionality of the hepatobiliary system, the liver, and the pancreas. 

If you are experiencing light-colored stool and are unaware of it, you are welcome to read this article. Here in this article, you might not only get help and knowledge about light stool medical aspects but also lead to getting an early diagnosis of disorders that pale-colored stool indicates for.

To better understand what’s happening inside your body, if there is a pale stool every day, dig in to find more.

What is a Light-Colored Stool?

Light-colored stool refers to pale clay, white-colored stools that you notice just before flushing out the poop. If we go for literal meaning, light-colored stools cover the light-green stools, but that is a myth.

Whenever you look at light-colored poop, it covers the spectrum of clay, pale, and white color stools, but not any other unusual poop color.

Is Light-Colored Stool a Sign of Danger?

A pale stool can be a red flag of liver dysfunctionality that may be as deadly as liver cirrhosis.

In terms of medical diagnosis, the light-colored stool indicates that your specific organs, i.e., the liver, gallbladder, or pancreas, are not working optimally.

It is not wrong to assume that poop reflects your body’s organ health and functionality. Take note that different poop colors represent various disorders and also distinct reasons. So, consult a doctor today to figure out what pale-colored stool is bringing up to you!

Light colored stool may indicate a serious disease, talk to our doctor to find out

Causes of Light-Colored Stool 

Pale stool indicates different medical conditions, nutrient malabsorption, and poor digestion. In some cases, certain medications are responsible for the white-colored stool. 

It is essential to highlight that the lack of bile, bilirubin and pancreatic juice might cause pale stool color.

The causes of the clay-colored poop are mainly divided into two main categories.

  • Medical complications  
  • Medication or drugs 

Medical Complications Associated with Pale Stool

The clay-colored stool might be simply a sign of food you ate if it occurs occasionally. Still, if it goes prolonged or becomes a daily practice, it might be a clear signal of medical issues in the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, or some structural biliary system complication. 

Here are some medical complications that turn normal stool into a pale-colored stool.

Liver Problems

If your poop color constantly gives an unusual pale or white appearance, it might indicate that your liver or bile duct health is not as good as you think.

Liver diseases may be of different types carrying distinct complications and levels of severity; Some of the conditions include:

  • Fatty liver disease
  • Hepatitis A, B, and C
  • Liver cirrhosis 
  • Liver failure
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver cysts
  • Wilson’s disease

The human body contains two forms of bilirubin. One of these types of bilirubin is passed to urine or feces. However, if the bilirubin isn’t passed into the waste due to any liver condition or disease, the poop appearance turns white clay or pale color.

For diagnosis, it is essential to look at other common symptoms associated with pale-colored stool.

Light colored stool may indicate a serious disease, talk to our doctor to find out

Hepatitis and Pale-colored Poop 

Clay-colored poop might be an indication of hepatitis, a liver problem. It can be alcoholic hepatitis or viral hepatitis, depending upon the cause. If liver inflammation is due to excessive alcohol intake, then its alcoholic hepatitis and pale stool indicate its presence. 

On the other hand, if liver inflammation is due to some virus, it is simply known as viral hepatitis. 

In both cases, clay or gray-colored stool can be a symptom. 

Gallstones and Pale-colored Poop

Pale or white poop might be due to disease or disorder of the gallbladder, a bile-storing site. In this case, gallstones are formed that are solidified deposits in the gallbladder. The deposition of such hardened material in the gallbladder may affect bile flow or block it.

In addition to pale stool, gallbladder stone symptoms include:

  • Intense or stomach pang
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and chill
  • Jaundice

Doctors may recommend medications that can help dissolve gallstones. Without treatment, gallstones can cause problems with other organs, such as the pancreas and liver.

Surgery is the ultimate option to remove your gallstones if prescribed medications do not dissolve the stone. Seeking medical treatment in time helps resolve symptoms completely.

Biliary Cholangitis

Biliary cirrhosis is a chronic disease that results in bile duct inflammation or irritation, but the exact cause of the condition is unknown.

As cirrhosis might not be reversed, prescribed medications can manage symptoms and complications, including cholestyramine for (treating itching), and ursodiol aids in removing bile from the bloodstream. Some supplements are prescribed with calcium to maintain bone health and fat-soluble vitamins A, K, E, and D to overcome nutrient deficiency due to fatty stool.

The clay-colored stool is one of the most common during biliary cirrhosis, the bile duct is destroyed, and bile flow might affect that, ultimately turning healthy poop into a light-colored stool.

Discuss your concerns with our doctor about change in stool color which may lead you to a serious condition

Biliary Stricture

You may have been born with structural defects in your biliary system that prevent bile flow, and light-colored stool can be its symptom. Biliary structure arises from the narrowing of the bile duct post-gallbladder surgery. Suppose you notice pale poop regularly; taking notes and consulting a doctor is essential. In order to diagnose any structural defects, your doctor may recommend tests or imaging, including scans, X-rays, or blood tests.

Pancreatic Problems 

Pancreatic issues such as pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer can cause pancreatic juice secretion by the digestive system. Its juice is a combination of digestion-friendly enzymes that play a role in the digestion and metabolism of macronutrients, including fats, carbohydrates, and protein.

In case of any issue with the pancreas, a lack of pancreatic juice occurs, and the metabolism of fats is affected, ultimately turning your stool into clay or pale-colored poop.

Diet Associated with Pale Stool

When it comes to pale bowel movements, food is not a cause for concern, but in case pale stool in infants may be caused by a milk diet. On the other side, food colors may be the reason for light-colored stools. Modifying dietary intake and consuming less fatty food may compel the poop to return to its usual color.

Medications Associated with Pale Stool

Medications that can cause pale stool include large doses of bismuth subsalicylate and anti-diarrheal drugs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, naproxen (EC-Naprosyn), birth control pills, antibiotics, and anabolic steroids are most likely to cause drug-induced hepatitis.

Drug-induced hepatitis and the related discolored stools can be reversed a few days or weeks after switching medications.

Discuss your concerns with our doctor about change in stool color which may lead you to a serious condition

Pale Stool Complications in Children

Pale-colored stool may be a normal finding in infants and children. In comparison to adults, pale stools in children may not necessarily be an indication of any underlying medical condition. They should be pale stools but not white.

Infants on breastfeeding often have a light yellow-brown stool appearance. During their weaning, infants’ stools turn brown as soon as they are introduced to solids.

Children with white or very light brown might indicate serious problems with liver disorders such as cholestasis or other conditions like liver, gallbladder, or pancreas medical issues. Waiting for the next bowel movement is usually safe for older children with no other symptoms.

In case of the union of pale-color stool in an infant with other visible signs of any other disease, talk to a pediatrician and get a diagnosis.

Pale Stool Complication in Pregnancy

Pregnancy poop color is brown similar to healthy adult poop. The white chalky stools or pale-colored stools during pregnancy might indicate a liver disorder known as cholestasis of pregnancy. In addition, pancreatic and gallbladder diseases might also be responsible for white color stool.

Here are some common signs in addition to clay-colored stools:

  • Dark urine even in the hydrated state 
  • Jaundice
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness beyond routine pregnancy
  • Light-colored stool after a stomach bug.

If you are pregnant and have light-colored stools and any of the above symptoms, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor and have a safe pregnancy.

Has your stool turned white? talk to a doctor to find out the cause

Different Color Poops and their Complications

Stool color  Medical causesDietary causes
Black StoolBleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as the stomach.Iron supplements, bismuth subsalicylate, foods like black licorice, and other iron-rich foods.
Bright redBleeding in the large intestine or rectum, usually from hemorrhoids.Food color, beetroot, cranberries, tomato juice, soup, gelatin red color, or drink blends.
GreenQuick bowel movement in the intestine during diarrhea. Resulting in incomplete bile breakdown.Foods including Green leafy vegetables, food green coloring, flavored drinks blends, and iron supplements.
Light-colored, white, or clay-coloredA lack of bile in feces. It may indicate a bile duct blockage.Medications include large doses of bismuth subsalicylate and other anti-diarrheal drugs.
Yellow, oiledFat malabsorption, fatty stool, for example, celiac disease.Bread and Cereals.Weight loss medications.


To get a diagnosis of the actual cause of pale-colored stool conditions, it is crucial to observe your poop color every single day. In addition, recall and relate your diet with poop color. If the diet is the actual reason for the unusual stool color, there is no need to panic.

On the other hand, if you have not eaten any food item that can transform your poop into unusual poop, then it might be a sign of worry.

Diagnosis is based on two stages. In stage one, you observe unusual health symptoms. In the second stage, your doctor helps you to diagnose an actual medical problem by reviewing and analyzing relevant symptoms of diseases. 

Note that your medical aid will only be successful if you answer each question your doctor asks in detail. It is recommended that no part be missed during the assessment session, and let your physician know all about the symptoms you are experiencing. 

In the case of clay-colored stool, the doctor may recommend some tests, including

  • Blood tests, 
  • Liver function tests (LFTs)
  • X-ray scans, 
  • CT scans of the liver and bile duct, 
  • Biliary system imaging study, 
  • Abdominal ultrasound, 
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

Based on the test result, the diagnosis can be made, and your treatment will be determined accordingly.

Does your poop color turn pale? Consult our expert doctors


To prevent the symptom, it is crucial to prevent the disorders. Following are some preventions for pancreatic disorders or liver problems. 

  • Stop smoking, 
  • No use of alcohol, 
  • Eat a high-fiber diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid fatty food
  • Use prescribed medication only.

When to Consult a Doctor

Ignoring the early symptoms often ends with regret. So neglecting light-colored stool that may be a symptom of the liver, pancreas, or biliary system disorders may worsen the condition. If you notice white or clay-colored stool at no one time but have several episodes, it’s the right time to seek medical help. 

Expert advice by doctors online medical team not only deals with the light-stool symptom but will resolve associated issues too.

We are available 24/7; feel free to Book an appointment and live a healthy lifestyle again.

FAQs About Light-Colored Stool  Answered By Your Doctors Online Team

Is there any treatment for pale or clay-colored stool?

The pale or clay-colored stool is a symptom that can be treated by identifying and treating the cause. If any medical complication like the liver, pancreas, or biliary system problem is the reason, the pale poop symptom might end by treating the disorder.

What does it mean when your POOP is pale?

Pale poop is an indication of the presence of a biliary drainage defect or liver or pancreatic issue.

Does light color stool cause death?

Yes, if the reason is some chronic disorder like liver cancer or liver cirrhosis that remains undiagnosed and untreated.

Does light-colored stool indicate liver cancer?

It might indicate liver cancer, cirrhosis, and other related problems.
In order to diagnose the actual cause, doctors may recommend several tests, including a C.T scan, and imaging of organs, liver, and biliary symptoms.

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