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Smelly Discharge from the Belly Button

Smelly Discharge from the Belly Button

Discharge from the belly button can be very humiliating and discomforting, especially in a crowd. Here are the causes along with the treatment options for the same.
Kalpana Kumari
Last Updated: May 13, 2018
How many of us pay attention to our belly button? I am sure many of us do not, unless it is pierced, or infected. This ignorance barely helps us keep our belly button clean on a daily basis. This results in an unclean, smelly navel.

The belly button, also known as navel or umbilicus, is basically a scar left after childbirth. The navel starts to produce a stench if it is left dirty or gets infected. It is not only unpleasant for yourself, but may also embarrass you in public. There are several factors that lead to a smelly discharge from the belly button. Let's take a look at the causes and treatment for the condition in question.

» Urachal Cyst: This cyst mostly occurs if the belly button is not cleaned properly, or regularly. The cyst can form an abscess of pus and white blood cells over a period of time. A cyst occurring in the persistent part of the urachus is known as urachal cyst. Urachal cyst is accompanied with pain in the abdomen and a rise in body temperature. The cyst bursts inside and oozes out fluid that comes out and results in a smelly discharge from the belly button.

» Candidiasis: Candida albicans -- the causative agent of candidiasis -- is an organism that every human being carries on their skin. This organism makes a home for itself, which may not even come to your notice as it may not bother anyone. These are white patches that can occur on the belly button. They resemble cottage cheese, or milk yogurt. Their growth is rapid and uncontrolled. It usually causes pain and inflammation. People with a weak immune system are at a higher risk as the body becomes unable to curb the growth of this bacteria. It can be fatal if it reaches the bloodstream, or organs like the ear. However, these are extremely rare cases even in people with low immunity levels.

» Patent Urachus: The urachus tube is a small tube that joins the fetal bladder to the umbilical cord. In some cases, the urachus tube fails to close after birth. A surgery called patent urachus is performed to treat the defect in the urachus tube. If the surgery does not heal, it may cause infection that may lead to swelling and redness. It can also cause a stinky yellowish mucus-like fluid excretion from the belly button.

» Fungal Infection: Another cause for smelly discharge from belly button is fungal infection. Fungal infection of the belly button is characterized by painful itching and burning.

» Sepsis-Septicemia: Nowadays, belly button piercings have become a style statement. A pierced navel may look stylish but due to frequent bleeding it surely invites many infection-causing pathogens. The discharge of yellowish-green fluid from a pierced belly button is called sepsis-septicemia.

» UV rays: Ultraviolet rays are very bad and harmful to the skin. It also causes belly button infections. A curd-like discharge may be noted in such cases. Swimming during summer, sunbaths, natural tanning processes, etc., expose the belly button to the sun, causing this type of belly button infections.

» Diabetes: Diabetes can also be a reason for the infection. A cottage cheese-like discharge may be seen in the belly button. Also, diabetes does not allow the infection to heal quickly. Diabetes can also lead to thrush in the belly button.

» Physique: People with a fat belly are more prone to such infections. A chubby belly protracts the hollowness of the navel, which makes it very favorable for collection of dirt and moisture. This can damage the cells and tissues of the umbilicus leading to belly button infections.

» Sebaceous Cyst: This is a less serious cyst that gives out a smelly discharge and occurs because of abrasion or itching in that area.

» Other Reasons
  • Debris: Debris entrapped inside the belly button may cause irritation of the skin, which eventually results in an infection.
  • Inflammation: Accumulation of pus collected from the surrounding inflamed tissue can give out foul-smelling odor. The smell is due to the presence of anaerobic bacteria.

Remedial Measures
Washing and Drying the Area
Wash your belly button clean, preferably with an antibacterial soap every day. Make sure that after washing, the soap is off your belly button completely. Wipe away the water completely. Do not leave the area wet.

In order to maintain the dryness, dip a Q-tip in saline water and rub it gently in your belly button. Saline water will dry your skin. Use another Q-tip, dip it in neosporin powder, and dab it in.

Solutions for Infection or Cyst
If you have a piercing and have developed an infection, do not wear the ring till the infection has cured. As far as possible, keep your belly button open (uncovered), till the infection heals. Rubbing in some alcohol would also help. If you have a cyst, apply benzalkonium chloride, or hydrogen peroxide 4-5 times a day. You can also apply plain yogurt on a yeast infection to get relief from itching. In case of kids, consult a doctor as many antifungal creams are not recommended for them.

One of the most effective treatments is to resist the urge of itching. The easiest way is to place an ice cube on the belly button to relieve itching.

Keep from scratching, or using any foreign material to itch your belly button.

If thrush occurs, it can be treated with an antifungal medicine called nystatin liquid. Put 1-2 drops of this liquid twice, or thrice a day. However, do check with the doctor before the application.

Discourage Microbial Growth
Try not to keep the belly button area warm and moist as it will support microbial growth. If your belly button is prone to sweating, frequently apply talcum powder to avoid the conditions favorable for bacterial, or fungal growth. It may get alright on its own as your body sends white blood cells to fight off the bacteria and control the infection.

Doctors prescribe antibiotics to curb the infection. In severe cases, a surgery may be performed, but that is very rare.

Even after trying out the above-given ways of treatment for a week or so, if the smelly discharge from the belly button does not go away, you should consult a health care practitioner for medical intervention.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional.