A Smelly Belly Button Can Be a Medical Concern

Any smell or discharge coming from the belly button can be due to an infection. The most common causes of infection in the belly button are due to piercings, fungal infections, yeast infections and obesity. If you are experiencing symptoms such as redness in the affected area, painful swelling, and curd-like discharge resulting in a smelly belly button, you should find out what might be causing this condition and the remedies for it. This article will provide the most common causes that can cause belly button infections and the remedies as well.

Causes of a Smelly Belly Button

As the belly button is a warm and moist area, it is susceptible to bacteria overgrowth and resulting infections. This can cause belly button discharge and an unpleasant smell. Following are some of the causes that may be responsible for this condition:

  • Bacterial Infections - Unclean, unwashed belly buttons can be extremely susceptive to bacterial infections. A smelly belly button excreting a pus-like substance is, most often, associated with a bacterial infection. Sweat, soap and other substances deposited in the navel cavity can aid bacterial growth. Bacterial discharge may be brown or yellow in colour and may cause pain and swelling.
  • Fungal Infections - The most common symptom of a fungal infection in the belly button is discharge and pain. The most common cause of pain and discharge in the belly button is due to candida. Candida albicans thrives in warm, moist areas such as the urinary tract, mouth, and nose as well as the belly button. An overgrowth of fungus results in a red, swollen belly button and discharge. Scratching the infected area may cause bleeding and further aggravation.
  • Patent Urachus - A foul smell and discharge from the belly button can be due to a condition known as patent urachus. The urachus is a tube connecting the bladder and the umbilicus. Normally, the urachus closes after birth. However, there are instances when this does not happen. An open urachus results in bacterial and fungal infections that lead to foul odor and discharge in the belly button.
  • Surgery - Most often, a smelly belly button with a curd-like discharge may also be due to infection following a surgical procedure. The most common cause is tubal ligation. This causes redness, swelling and pain in the navel.
  • Diabetes - High blood sugar may also affect the condition of the belly button. For example, a discharge resembling a cottage cheese-like substance with a foul odor may come from the navel.
  • Sebaceous Cysts - Very rarely, an odor and discharge emanating from the belly button can be due to a sebaceous cyst. Although the cyst may not be cause for alarm, any infection caused by scratching or itching may require treatment.

Treating Belly Button Infections

There are various methods of treating belly button infections depending on the cause. For example, those suffering with belly button discharge and odor resulting from patent urachus can find relief through surgery. This reduces the risk of urinary tract infections, cancer of the urachal tube and leaking urine. Belly button secretions resulting from diabetes may be avoided through control of blood sugar levels. Odor and discharge resulting from bacterial infections may be treated by washing the infected area with lukewarm water and antibacterial soap, and drying the navel thoroughly. An antibacterial topical cream applied after washing the area may solve the problem of an infected belly button. Antifungal creams and various foam treatments may help control fungal infections.

A smelly belly button can be embarrassing and, left untreated, may be serious. Therefore, all patients experiencing strange odors and discharge emanating from the belly button should obtain medical attention as soon as possible. Keeping the belly button clean and dry may help avoid any problems resulting from infections.


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