Discharge from Belly Button: Causes and Treatments

The belly button, or umbilicus, is an area of the body where it is easy to get an infection. It provides everything that yeast, fungus and bacteria need to grow. It is a natural cavity in the body that is warm, damp and dark and soap residue and sweat, along with a host of other substances can build up there easily and allow an infection to begin

Common symptoms of bacterial and fungal  infection include redness, swelling and belly button discharge. There can also be some bleeding as well.   

The good news is that it can be easy to treat a belly button infection. It is important that you take care of it as soon as you notice swelling or any discharge as it could lead to more serious problems.

Why Do I Have Belly Button Discharge?

  1. Fungus

There are many types of fungi that can grow in the belly button, the most common of which is Candida. It loves the warm, damp darkness of the umbilicuscavity. Symptoms of a fungal infection are that the belly button and surrounding area may begin to look red or discolored. It may also be itchy.

  1. Bacteria

A bacterial infection can often accompany a fungal infection, although it can occur on its own. Typical of a bacterial infection is a kind of scabbing over and a discharge that will be odorous and yellow in appearance. There are many different possible causes of belly button infections that lead to belly button discharge. Poor hygiene is one of them.

  1. Urachal Cyst

The urachal is a small duct that connects the fetus to the umbilical cord just above the bladder. For most people, this closes soon after birth. In rare instances, the duct does not close and a cyst may grow. This cyst can then become infected and the infection travel up to the belly button. Mucus and urine can leak through this opening, leading to discharge and infection too. This is can be very serious and is one of the reasons that if you do have any belly button discharge you should be examined by a doctor. While this is a rare condition, it is a very serious one as the infection can pass to your organs.

  1. Sebaceous Cyst

Another cause of discharge is the presence of a benign cyst on or under the skin in the belly button area. These have a particularly odorous discharge when they become infected. These types of cysts are far more common and are not an issue unless they become infected. They can become infected if the cyst is scratched by you or by any abrasive substance.

Risk Factors

People who have recently had abdominal surgery or umbilicus surgery are also at risk for these infections. So too are those with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, are morbidly obese or have overexposure to the sun.

Note: If your belly button smells, see a doctor ASAP

As you can see, some of the causes of belly button discharge are not of great concern, but others can lead to serious medical problems. If you have a discharge, or your belly button is giving off a smell you must be examined by a doctor. This will help prevent a simple and treatable issue from becoming a major problem.

Belly Button Discharge: What Should I Do About It?

The best thing you can do to clean your belly button and to relieve any pain from the infection is to use a warm salt water bath and a warm compress.

  • Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in warm water and flush the belly button with it gently. Pat dry with a soft towel, or use a hair dryer on a low setting to gently dry the belly button.
  • Soak a washcloth in warm water, wring it out completely and then hold the warm damp cloth over your belly button. This is a simple way to relieve pain.

If you do have a belly button infection there are some things you should and should not do to clear up the issue.

  • Don’t use any over the counter creams or powders that are advertised as “antiseptic.” They will only add to the general irritation of the areas.
  • Do follow through with taking any medications your doctor prescribes to you and using any prescription ointments or creams.
  • Don’t pick or scratch at the belly button, after you have cleaned and dried the area, cover it with cause if you need a reminder not to touch it.
  • Don’t try to “turn it inside out.” Don’t stress the skin but flush the cavity to clean it.

Belly button discharge is almost guaranteed to be caused by an infection. Whether that infection is fungal, yeast or from a bacteria - you have to clear the infection completely in order for it to go away.  Take the entire course of antibiotics prescribed and use antimicrobials if recommended by your doctor to make sure there won’t be a recurrence.

What Others Have Experienced

“I think that my issues definitely had to do with my belly button just being traumatized through several surgeries and an ectopic pregnancy. I had cysts, gallbladder disease and within 2 weeks they had to go through my belly button twice to clear everything. It was the smell that got me and made me notice not all was right. I am trying to use swabs and rubbing alcohol to clear it now. “

“Weight is my problem, with a lot of things it seems. I get a belly button discharge that is a thick runny liquid and it smells really bad sometimes. I have some other issues, mostly female trouble, and I am thinking I am going to ask my doctor whether or not they could be connected when I go in next.”

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