Docusate Solution, Suspension, or Syrup

Docusate (Colace®) is a type of laxative known as a stool softener. It works by dissolving water and fats in your poop to soften it. This makes it easier to pass, especially when you need to avoid pushing or straining.


What is this medication?

DOCUSATE (doc CUE sayt) prevents and treats occasional constipation. It works by softening the stool, making it easier to have a bowel movement. It belongs to a group of medications called laxatives.

This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.

COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Colace, Diocto, Doc-Q-Lace, Docu Liquid, Fleet, Silace


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What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Severe constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Sudden change in bowel habit lasting more than 2 weeks
  • An unusual or allergic reaction to docusate, other medications, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • Pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • Breast-feeding

How should I use this medication?

Take this medication by mouth. Follow the directions on the label. Shake well before using. You should mix the dose in 6 to 8 ounces of milk, fruit juice or infant formula prior to taking. This will help reduce throat irritation. Use a specially marked spoon or container to measure your medication. Ask your pharmacist if you do not have one. Household spoons are not accurate. Do not take your medication more often than directed.

Talk to your care team regarding the use of this medication in children. While this medication may be prescribed for children as young as 2 years for selected conditions precautions do apply.

Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.

NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.


What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medication?

  • Mineral oil

This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.


What should I watch for while using this medication?

Do not use for more than one week without advice from your care team. If your constipation returns, check with your care team.

Drink plenty of water while taking this medication. Drinking water helps decrease constipation.

Stop using this medication and contact your care team if you experience any rectal bleeding or do not have a bowel movement after use. These could be signs of a more serious condition.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?

Side effects that you should report to your care team as soon as possible:

  • Allergic reactions—skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your care team if they continue or are bothersome):

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where should I keep my medication?

Keep out of the reach of children and pets.

Store at room temperature between 15 and 30 degrees C (59 and 86 degrees F). Do not freeze. Throw away any unused medication after the expiration date.

NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.

Additional Common Questions

How long does Colace® take to work?

It takes between 12 and 72 hours for docusate (Colace®) oral solution to travel through your digestive system and affect the poop (stool) in your colon. It works like soap, dissolving water and fats in your stool to soften it. This type of laxative doesn’t stimulate bowel movements, but it can make your poop easier to pass.

Can you take Colace® stool softener daily?

You can take docusate (Colace®) daily for up to a week. If you feel like you need to take it for longer than that, contact a healthcare provider. Stool softeners can help treat occasional constipation, but your provider might have different recommendations for treating persistent or chronic constipation.

Why do they recommend taking Colace® at night?

The general idea is that if you take your stool softener at night, you might have a soft, easy poop in the morning. Once you’re in the routine of taking Colace® daily, your poops may become consistently easier to pass. You’ll probably be able to predict how long it’ll take to work. Many people have results within 12 hours.

Is Colace® safe to take during pregnancy?

Colace® isn’t known to be harmful to you or the fetus during pregnancy. But it’s only meant to be a temporary solution, and constipation during pregnancy can be a recurring issue. If you regularly experience constipation during pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider about how to treat it long-term.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Stool softeners like docusate (Colace®) can be helpful for treating occasional constipation, especially when you need to avoid pushing or straining to poop. This is important if you have an open wound in your anal canal, like a hemorrhoid or fissure, that makes your bowel movements painful or difficult.

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Note: Introduction and Additional Common Questions written and medically approved by Cleveland Clinic professionals.

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