The primary cause of belly button discharge is infection in the belly button. Infection occurs when germs, fungus, bacteria and dirt get trapped within your belly button and start proliferating. This causes discharge from belly button, which can be white, brown, yellow, blood tint discharge and also can be accompanied by a foul smell.
What are the Causes of Belly Button Discharge? (5, 6)
Causes of belly button discharge include:
Bacterial Infection:(1) There are numerous types of bacteria residing in your belly button and if this part of your anatomy is not cleaned properly, then all these germs can cause an infection. Piercings of the belly button can also get infected resulting in a belly button discharge.
The discharge from belly button caused by bacterial infections is green or yellow in color and smells bad. Other symptoms are pain, swelling and a scab surrounding your belly button.
Yeast Infection: Candida is a type of yeast, which tends to grow in dark and damp parts of your body resulting in a yeast infection known as candidiasis. Candidiasis can develop between folds of your skin, such as under your arms and in the groin region. If your belly button is not kept clean and dry, then it can cause development of yeast infection there.
The symptoms of candidiasis in the belly button, is an itchy, red rash on your belly button and can be accompanied with white, thick discharge. People suffering from with diabetes are at increased risk for any type of infections including candidiasis.(2,3)
Surgery: Having recent abdominal surgery can cause drainage of pus from the belly button. If you are having belly button discharge after an abdominal surgery, then it is an indication of an infection and needs immediate medical treatment.
Urachal Cyst:(4) Urachus is a small tube that connects your bladder to the umbilical cord when a fetus is developing in the womb. It helps in draining the urine from the body. Normally, before birth, the urachus closes; however, in some cases, it does not close properly. In such cases, a cyst can develop and get infected resulting in bloody or cloudy discharge from the belly button.
Epidermoid Cyst:(7) An epidermoid cyst can develop in your belly button and also in other parts of the body and are one of the common cyst types found on the skin. If there is infection in the epidermoid cyst, then it can cause yellow, thick and foul-smelling discharge from your belly button. The cyst also looks swollen and red.
When Should You See A Doctor About Your Belly Button Discharge? What are the Symptoms of Belly Button Infection?
You need to consult your physician immediately upon having any discharge from your belly button, as this is an indication of infection, more so in case of any recent surgery. Some of the symptoms of a belly button infection are: Redness, fever abdominal tenderness and painful urination.
How to Diagnose Belly Button Infection?
The doctor will conduct a physical exam and take the patient’s medical history to help with the diagnosis of the cause of discharge from your belly button. Some cells from your belly button or a swab of the discharge can be taken and sent to the lab for a proper diagnosis.
How Do You Treat Belly Button Discharge?
- The treatment of belly button discharge depends on what is causing it.
- If the cause is an infection, then treatment consists of keeping the area of your belly button dry and clean.
- In case of bacterial infection, antibiotic ointment or oral antibiotics may be needed along with incision and drainage of the pus site within the belly button.
- In case of yeast/fungal infection an antifungal cream/ powder is prescribed.
- If you suffer from diabetes, then it is important to see you’re your blood sugar levels are under control by consulting with your endocrinologist.
- In case of epidermoid cyst, treatment is done by injecting medicine into the epidermoid cyst, which reduces the swelling and the cyst is then drained. It can also be treated by removing the complete cyst via laser or surgically.
- In case of urachal cyst, treatment consists of oral or topical antibiotics to treat the infection and drainage of the cyst is also done. After the infection resolves, then the cyst is removed laparoscopically.
How to Prevent Belly Button Infection and Discharge?
Keep your belly button region clean and dry. Use a mild antibacterial soap to wash your belly button area and also make use of a soft sponge or a washcloth to get within your belly button to clean any debris or dirt present inside. Saltwater solution can also be used to clean your belly button.
After bathing it is important to completely dry the inside of your belly button. Do not apply any moisturizers or creams inside the belly button, as they can clog it and cause further yeast or bacterial growth.
It is better to avoid wearing tight clothes that can cause irritation to the belly button. Comfortable and loose clothes made from natural fibers, such as silk and cotton are preferable.
It is highly advised not to pierce your belly button, as it can lead to infection. Even if you get a piercing in your belly button, make sure that you keep the area clean and dry to prevent any infection.
Belly button discharge can be alarming to experience; however, once the cause is identified and it is treated, then it resolves quickly.
The cause of the belly button discharge is different and need to be identified and treated immediately. If along with a foul-smelling discharge, there is also swelling, redness and fever, then it is time to seek medical attention.
After your doctor has inspected it, the course of treatment will be decided to clear the infection as quickly as possible.
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