An enlarged region of a wellbore. A washout in an openhole section is larger than the original hole size or size of the drill bit. Washout enlargement can be caused by excessive bitjet velocity, soft or unconsolidated formations, in-siturock stresses, mechanical damage by BHA components, chemical attack and swelling or weakening of shale as it contacts fresh water. Generally speaking, washouts become more severe with time. Appropriate mud types, mud additives and increased mud density can minimize washouts.