The belly button is also known as the umbilicus. It is in the center of the navel serving as an umbilical cord when you are young. The cord carries food and oxygen to the baby. At birth, the cord is cut. Depending on how it was cut, it could either be an innie or an outie.
Whether or not it is facing inwards or outwards, it is a natural hollow that is primed to host bacteria. This is especially so because it is warm, dark and moist.
Belly button crust is a normal occurrence. Your skin cells regularly regenerate, meaning that the old skin can get trapped inside it instead of being washed off in the bath. These skin cells dry up to become crusty.
However, while some crustiness is common, any other discharge or a foul smell from your belly button is not. Bleeding or itchy redness is also abnormal. Should you see any of these signs, it is time to see your doctor.
Abnormal with discharge and crusting
If it has a bad smell and discharge, it is likely to be one of the following:
Fungi and yeast
Although there are many types of fungi that grow in this area, the most commonly known is candida which thrives here This is because it is warm and damp there.
In the case of a fungal infection, the belly button and the area around it reddens or becomes discolored. In a yeast infection, the area will have a red, itchy rash and a thick off-white discharge.
National Geographic says that a person can have “as few as 29 species and some as many as 107, although most had around 67”
This bacterium naturally occurs in your navel and scientists haven’t even figured out all the different types yet. Some of this bacterium is harmful while some prove to be helpful.
However, a bacterial infection is most certainly not helpful. It occurs as a foul-smelling discharge that eventually scabs over. It is mostly yellow or green in appearance and may be painful.
Belly button piercings increase the risk of bacterial infections, especially when they are still healing. Bad hygiene also plays a part.
Cysts are growths in your body, either hard or soft that can be filled with liquid or pus. There are two types of cysts that may affect it.
A small duct connects the fetus and umbilical cord. This is called a urachal. After birth, this duct should close, however, in rare cases, it doesn’t. when it doesn’t close, a urachal cyst may form. This can become infected, traveling up the belly button.
Urine and mucus also leak through this opening. As such, it is a serious problem and it is important to go and see a doctor.
A sebaceous cyst is a benign cyst in the navel area. It can be on the skin or under it. These are rather common and only become a problem if they get infected. Infection occurs through scratching or any coarse substances.
These types of cysts are particularly smelly. The discharge is thick and off-white too.
What not to do about the discharge
- DO NOT pick at or scratch the area. This will only increase the chances of infection.
- DO NOT try to turn your belly button inside out in the hopes of cleaning it properly. Think of it as “flushing out” the cavity instead of cleaning out the cavity.
- DO NOT use antiseptics or bathe in them as these could prove irritable to the skin
- DO NOT use over the counter creams that are supposed to help. They often have irritants that could make things worse
- DO NOT ignore the problem. Go to the doctor if you don’t see any improvement after a few days.
Treatment and remedies
The first thing is to not touch or mess around with it if you suspect infection. Should you notice any swelling around that area, the first thing to do is to clean it.
Warm salty water
Take 1 tbsp. pf salt and mix it with warm water. Gently flush out the area and then pat dry. To dry the inside area, you can use a hair dryer on the lowest setting.
Using warm water, soak a washcloth then rinse it out thoroughly. Lay back and place the damp cloth on your belly button to ease the pain.
Should the infection become worse, see your doctor. He is likely to prescribe a few antibiotics. Use these correctly for best results.
- Millard, Elizabeth. “What to Do If Your Belly Button Oozes, Smells, and Gets Crusty.” menshealth.com. n.p, 13 Nov.2016. web. 8 Nov.2017: https://www.menshealth.com/health/belly-button-discharge