10 Causes of Smelly Belly Button with Treatments (2022)

Some people visit their dermatologists to ask common questions like, why does my belly button smell, or how to properly clean my belly button? If you think that there is a bad odor coming from your navel, this article will tell you the causes of the smelly belly button and the proper ways to treat it.

The most common causes of smelly belly buttons are fungal infections, obesity, yeast infections, piercings, and belly button discharge. In some cases, this condition can be accompanied by bleeding. Fortunately, there are many ways to treat the infection. Making an action right away can prevent it from getting worse.

What is a Belly Button?

The belly button is the only visible scar in the body after birth. A few days after the baby was born, the rest of a small piece of meat fell off; only the navel, also called umbilicus.

There are two forms of navels: hollow navels and convex navels. The hollow navel is a cavity; it is more likely to have a bad smell than the convex navel. This part of the body is warm and damp. Dirt, lint, bacteria, sweat, and other germs can start building up in your belly button. According to the study, there are more than 67 bacteria in the navel.

10 Causes of Smelly Belly Button with Treatments (1)

Common Causes of Smelly Belly Button

Like what we have mentioned before, the smelly button can be a sign of poor hygiene or infection. Because the belly button is a moist and warm area, it is vulnerable to the growth of bacteria that leads to different types of infection. This causes the belly button to produce an unpleasant odor and discharge.

The smelly belly button can also be accompanied by bleeding, especially when you have a belly button pierce. This could be a sign of a yeast, fungal infection, or cyst. In some cases, the navel may be filled with stone-like masses called omphalitis, which can also cause navel infection and inflammation. Here are 10 common causes of a smelly belly button.

1. Yeast or Fungal Infection

10 Causes of Smelly Belly Button with Treatments (2)

Yeast infection, also called fungal infection, often affects adolescents and children. Newborns can also develop this condition when exposed to a mother’s vaginal yeast infection. Thrush or athlete’s foot can also spread to the belly button. Diabetes and excess abdominal fat can increase the risk of belly button yeast infections in adults.

The most common sign of yeast infection in the belly button is a foul odor. Candida albicans, a fungus that survives in damp and warm places like the navel, can cause an unpleasant smell coming from your belly button.

(Video) Why Does My Belly Button Smell? How To Clean Navel? Clean Umbilicus-Dr. Rasya Dixit| Doctors' Circle

Aside from the navel hole, this fungus can also live in the mouth and cause bad breath. Other symptoms of yeast infection in the belly button include:

  • A foul odor that does not disappear after cleaning.
  • Yellow discharges from the navel hole.
  • Pain with liquid discharge.

2.Poor Hygiene

According to a 2011 study by the North Carolina University, nearly 70 species of bacteria can potentially colonize the belly button.

The navel can also be a breeding ground for fungi and other germs because of the dead skin, oil, dirt, sweat, and other debris. These germs will multiply and produce a foul smell.

3. Bacterial Infection

10 Causes of Smelly Belly Button with Treatments (3)

This condition usually occurs in people who have thick belly buttons. Leaving your belly button unwashed allows bacteria to live and develop. The navel hole is warm and moist, which is the perfect place for bacteria to strive.

Leaving it unattended can make the condition worse, accompanied by pain. You will feel uncomfortable, and the affected area becomes a wound. Aside from the unpleasant smell of the belly button, you may also have liquid discharge.

Here are some tips to prevent bacterial infection that leads to smelly belly button:

  • Always clean your belly button with soap to prevent the growth of bacteria.
  • After sweating, clean your navel hole to keep the sweat from accumulating inside. Sweat promotes the growth of bacteria and leads to an unpleasant smell.
  • Always keep your belly button dry after showering or exercising to prevent it from staying moist.

4. Pregnancy or Period

10 Causes of Smelly Belly Button with Treatments (4)

Many people have reported that their navel area smells like stool during periods or pregnancy. Why does it happen during a period or pregnancy?

  • During ovulation or period, or pregnancy, the level of the body’s metabolism increases. This means that the body releases more sweat, and not cleaning the belly button correctly may result in an unpleasant odor. An infection may also develop if not washed properly.
  • If you are pregnant and have a smelly button accompanied by soreness or bruise around the area, see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

5. Diabetes

10 Causes of Smelly Belly Button with Treatments (5)

Diabetes is also a condition that can lead to a smelly belly button. One of the little-known symptoms of diabetes is that when the blood sugar is higher than usual, you can feel the skin dry or even itching.

You can also feel itching on your hands, arms, legs, and feet. According to studies, diabetes makes the health of the navel worse and leads to unpleasant-smelling discharge that may smell like fish or rotting cheese; if you notice that, you should have a blood glucose test.

(Video) What Causes Belly Button Odor & Other Facts About The Body

6. Surgery

The smelly belly button can also occur because of surgery. This happens because surgical procedures may leave scabs during the healing process. In addition to that, infections or discharges may also follow belly button surgeries such as laparoscopy and tummy tuck. Other surgeries that may also lead to the unpleasant smell of the navel hole include gallbladder surgery and tubal ligation.

After abdominoplasty, or plastic surgery of the abdomen, the scars around the belly button contract and cause the skin to shed. The debris can accumulate in the navel hole and promote the growth of bacteria. In this case, bacterial growth or infection is the cause of the foul odor from your belly button.

If you are experiencing a smelly belly button after a few months of surgery, there could be stitches left and has to be removed. You will need to visit your surgeon immediately for proper treatment.

7. Urachal Cyst

Another cause that leads to the unpleasant smell of the navel hole is a urachus cyst or patent urachus. During the first trimester of pregnancy, urine from the fetus is drained through urachus, a channel or tube that connects the umbilicus and the bladder for waste excretion.

Urachal problems develop after birth. In most cases, the remnant cyst is located between the belly button and the top of the bladder. One of the symptoms of patent urachus or urachus cyst is a foul-smelling discharge from the umbilical. Other symptoms also include:

  • Pain when urinating.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Visible navel discharges.
  • UTI infections.

Newborns may have different symptoms compared to adults. Some signs of urachal cyst in newborns include:

  • A lump can be felt in the abdomen.
  • The belly button is always wet due to continuous discharges.
  • Belly button drainage.
  • Urinary tract infections.

It is essential to treat this problem immediately as it can show more symptoms around the navel areal. Treating umbilical urachus infections can be done with the two-stage procedure.

Your surgeon begins with an initial incision to drain the cyst, then elective excision. There are also recent reports that the infected cyst can be removed with the one-stage procedure.

8.Sebaceous Cyst

Sebaceous cysts are another common cause of belly button discharge. The sebaceous glands in the skin can release oil. If the sebaceous glands in the navel are blocked by dirt and oil, they may be infected and form sebaceous cysts.

(Video) How to Treat Belly button Infection

Sebaceous cysts can lead to swollen, redness, and pain near the navel, accompanied by a thick off-white or yellow discharge, and blackheads may also appear in the cyst center.

9. Piercing

10 Causes of Smelly Belly Button with Treatments (6)

Some of the signs of infected navel piercing are unpleasant to smell and yellowish discharges out of the hole. The wounds from the pierce turn into scabs. The debris stays in the hole and can lead to bacterial growth.

Aside from the unpleasant odor, you may also experience pain, itchiness, bumps, and bleed. You can prevent the infection from spreading by cleaning the affected area with antiseptic or rubbing alcohol.

10. Patent Urachus

Another cause that leads to the unpleasant smell of the navel hole is a urachus cyst or patent urachus. During the first trimester of pregnancy, urine from the fetus is drained through urachus, a channel or tube that connects the umbilicus and the bladder for waste excretion.

Urachal problems develop after birth. In most cases, the remnant cyst is located between the belly button and the top of the bladder. One of the symptoms of patent urachus or urachus cyst is a foul-smelling discharge from the umbilical. Other symptoms also include:

  • Pain when urinating.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Visible navel discharges.
  • UTI infections.

Newborns may have different symptoms compared to adults. Some signs of urachal cyst in newborns include:

  • A lump can be felt in the abdomen.
  • The belly button is always wet due to continuous discharges.
  • Belly button drainage.
  • Urinary tract infections.

It is important to treat this problem immediately as it can show more symptoms around the navel areal. Treating umbilical urachus infections can be done with a two-stage procedure. Your surgeon begins with an initial incision to drain the cyst, then elective excision. There are also recent reports that the infected cyst can be removed with a one-stage procedure.

How to Tell if Your Belly Button Is Infected

Common symptoms of an Infected belly button include:

  • Belly buttons are inflamed, swelling crusted, or itchy.
  • White, yellow, green, or dark-colored discharge with foul smells.
  • Persistent pain around the belly button, especially when you have a piercing.
  • Blistering or scab around the belly button or piercing.

Bleeding and Foul Odor Discharge from Belly Button

Is your navel releasing smelly liquid? This can be due to skin infection around the umbilicus that leads to discharge and drainage from your belly button. If you are experiencing itchiness and your belly button releases a foul-smelling discharge, it is best to seek medical attention to get proper treatment. You may experience bleeding navel hole when:

(Video) What's Inside Your Belly Button?

  • After laparoscopy
  • During pregnancy
  • Babies always scratch themselves

How to Get Rid of Smelly Belly Button at Home?

Fortunately, there are some natural ways to get rid of the smelly belly button. Making an action right away can prevent it from getting worse. Here are some ways to treat belly button infection:

1.Warm Salt Water

You can treat the infection with warm saltwater. Just add one tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of warm water. Use a cotton ball to clean the affected area. You can also apply an OTC water-based antibacterial cream. Repeat this treatment once or twice a day.

2.Tea Tree Oil

Another effective natural remedy for belly button infection is tea tree oil. It contains antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties—mix four drops of tea tree oil in 1 teaspoon of coconut or olive oil. Dip a cotton ball and apply the mixture to your belly button. Allow it to sit for at least ten minutes before wiping it off with a clean cloth or tissue. Repeat this treatment two times a day.

3. White Vinegar

You can stop the discharge from the belly button with white vinegar. Its acidic nature can combat the infection. Just mix 1 part of vinegar with two parts of warm water. Use cotton to apply the solution to your navel. Leave it for at least ten minutes before washing it off with warm water and pat dry. Repeat this treatment two times a day.

4. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera can also be used for treating infection in the belly button. It contains soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Just cut a leaf from the aloe vera plant and apply the gel to your belly button. Let it dry before cleaning the navel with a wet cloth or tissue.

5. Indian Lilac or Neem

This plant contains anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that can alleviate pain and itch. It can also prevent the infection from spreading. Get a few leaves of Indian Lilac and make a paste. You can add turmeric powder and apply it to your belly button. Let it sit for at least twenty minutes before washing with warm water. Repeat this treatment two times a day.

6. Keep the Belly Button Clean

You can speed up the healing process of the infected belly button by keeping it clean. This prevents the growth of bacteria. Use antibacterial soap to clean the area and dry it.

How to Prevent Smelly Belly Button Discharge?

  • Clean the navel every day using warm water, antibacterial soap, or saline solution.
  • Remove the dirt from your navel using a soft towel regularly.
  • After bathing, dry the inside of the navel to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Wear clothes made of cotton or silk, and this can help the skin to breathe.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing, which can reduce the irritation of your navel.
  • Avoid using any creams and moisturizers in the navel. This will clog pores and breed bacteria.
  • Avoid navel picking or scratching, especially navel piercing, which can lead to infection.

When to See a Doctor?

If your navel smell is accompanied by redness, pain, fever, irritation, or itching, please do not hesitate to consult a dermatologist. It may be a navel inflammation. In this case, you need antifungal therapy.

Is your navel releasing smelly liquid? This can be due to skin infection around the umbilicus that leads to discharge and drainage from your belly button. If you are experiencing itchiness or belly button hurt and your belly button releases a foul-smelling discharge, it is best to seek medical attention to get proper treatment.

(Video) How to treat Moist and Smelly Navel - by Doc Liza Ramoso-Ong

FAQs

How do you cure a smelly belly button? ›

Dip your finger or a soft washcloth in a solution of saltwater (about a teaspoon of table salt in a cup of warm water) and gently massage the inside of your navel. This should loosen stubborn germs that can cause odor. Then rinse with plain water and pat it dry.

Why does my belly button smell everyday? ›

Your hygiene needs work.

“The number one cause of unpleasant belly button odor comes from poor belly button hygiene,” says Dr. Minars. Forgetting to clean the area during showers or baths can cause a buildup of dirt, sweat, bacteria, and dead skin cells that gifts the area with a funky aroma.

Why does my belly button smell even after I wash it? ›

Washing your belly button should stop the unpleasant smell if it's from a buildup of dirt and germs. However, if the odor persists even after cleaning, you may want to see a health care provider. If you develop redness, swelling, aching, or discharge, your belly button may be infected.

How do you treat a yeast infection in your belly button? ›

Treatment for your belly button yeast infection may include an antifungal medication. Your healthcare provider may recommend an antifungal cream, ointment or powder. You'll apply the antifungal directly onto the skin of your belly button. You can find many antifungal creams over the counter.

Can a smelly belly button be serious? ›

When your belly button smells, it is usually because of a hygiene need or infection. The belly button contains several tiny skin folds that can trap sweat, dirt, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Possible infections include candidiasis, bacterial infections, or an infected urachal cyst.

What your belly button says about your health? ›

The shape and dent of your navel essentially determines how the umbilical cord heals. Belly buttons don't necessarily mean anything in particular about your health, however some people would argue that your belly button says a lot about you as a person.” Belly buttons are low-key gross.

What are the symptoms of a belly button infection? ›

Some general symptoms of an infection in the belly button include: redness or skin discoloration in or around the belly button. itching or swelling of the affected skin. a tender mass that bleeds or releases a foul-smelling discharge.

Why does my belly button keep leaking and smelling? ›

Dirt, bacteria, fungus, and germs can get trapped inside your belly button and start to multiply, which can cause an infection. If you develop a belly button infection, you might notice white, yellow, brown, or bloody discharge seeping out of it. That discharge might also have an unpleasant smell.

How do I know if my belly button infection is fungal or bacterial? ›

This is because bacteria break down the sweat and create a waste product that has a strong odor. If the belly button has trapped dead skin and sweat, it is likely to smell sweaty. A fungal infection is also likely to smell bad, especially if there is pus around the area.

How long do infected belly buttons take to heal? ›

While most belly button piercings heal without issues, bacteria can infect the area before healing is complete. Infections are usually minor. Symptoms can include pain, redness, and swelling, and improving hygiene can help. Complete healing can take 9–12 months.

Why is my belly button raw and smelly? ›

The most common cause for a belly button smell is poor hygiene. All areas of the body need to be washed regularly to stay clean and healthy. Skin is home to trillions of bacteria, which develop naturally and are usually harmless. The belly button has folds of skin that provide a place for bacteria to grow.

Is belly button infection serious? ›

Bacterial Infection

If you think you have an infection in your belly button, you should call your doctor so that you can have the area cleaned carefully. You may also need prescription antibiotics to kill the bacteria before it spread to other parts of your body.

What home remedy can I use to clean my belly button? ›

Salt Water- Salt water is really good and can easily cure itching and swelling around the navel region. It even protects the further growth of the bacteria on the navel. It can help to control the moisture present in the navel region. Tea Tree Oil- This oil has antifungal and anti-bacterial properties.

When should I go to the doctor for an infected belly button? ›

If your belly button is “leaking” clear or colored discharge or blood, you may have a bacterial, fungal, or yeast infection. Crusty skin, strong odor, itching, and redness are also signs of infection. If discharge and crust stick around after you wash your belly button, you should see your doctor.

Why would a belly button smell? ›

They can accumulate inside the hole, along with sweat, dirt, and other kinds of debris. Dr. Xu adds that if there's no redness, pain, or discharge, you don't really need to worry. And FYI, some people are just naturally more prone to developing a buildup and hence an odor there given the shape of their belly button.

Why do doctors check your belly button? ›

When your provider presses on your belly, he or she may get clues to possible problems. This exam with the hands gives healthcare providers information about important parts of the body. These are the liver, spleen, kidneys, intestines, stomach, pancreas, bladder, gallbladder, appendix, and the abdominal aorta.

Why do doctors touch your belly button? ›

Pressing on your stomach is a way to find out if the size of your internal organs is normal, to check if anything hurts, and to feel if anything unusual is going on. Looking, listening, and feeling are all part of a physical exam.

How do I clean my deep belly button? ›

Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and gently rub the surfaces inside your bellybutton. If the swab gets dirty, throw it away and start a new one. Once the cotton swab comes out clean, use a fresh one dipped in water to rinse the alcohol out of your bellybutton so it doesn't dry your skin.

What antibiotics treat belly button infection? ›

Bacterial infection

Sometimes an infection in your belly button can result in a brownish or yellowish discharge. Treatment: Your doctor might prescribe antibiotics such as penicillin or cephalosporin (Keflex). Keep your belly button clean and dry.

Is your belly button connected to anything? ›

This photo shows what the belly button looks like from inside the abdomen. As you can see, it is not attached to anything in the body. The belly button is where the umbilical cord attaches to the fetus, connecting the developing baby to the placenta.

Why shouldn't you dig your belly button? ›

The belly button harbors a high population of bacteria,” Dr. Richardson says. “It is largely inaccessible, so it remains dirty even after showering.” The shape of your navel makes it easy to collect dirt, which can even cause a strong smell. Dr.

Do belly buttons mean anything? ›

Key takeaways

Belly buttons are essentially an anatomical wildcard. They're a scarred area in the abdominal wall where your umbilical cord once was. Having an innie or outie doesn't mean anything for your health.

What is the stuff that builds up in your belly button? ›

A navel stone is sometimes called an omphalolith or umbolith. It is a condition where substances like sebum, or skin oil, hair, dead skin cells, and dirt can accumulate and form a hardball. The stone is usually a dark color and firm to the touch. They may resemble a large blackhead in the opening of the navel.

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