Belly button stinks - what's behind it?


The navel of every single person is extremely individual and designed differently. Due to its shape with many skin folds and thanks to the protected position, germs can very easily deposit and multiply in the navel. So it can happen that the navel stinks even in otherwise well-groomed people. But inflammation or a fungal infection can also lead to a smelly belly button.

Causes of a Smelly Belly Button

In many cases, a smelly navel is related to poor hygiene. The shape of the navel makes it very attractive for germs to multiply. The germs collect in the pre-formed hollow and especially under skin folds that are difficult to reach. These areas are usually not dried off well after a shower and therefore remain slightly damp. This is also favored by the accumulation of sweat.

In addition, the navel is usually covered by clothing and is generally one of the warm parts of the body due to its position in the middle of the body. This creates a warm and humid environment in the navel, which is particularly beneficial for the multiplication of germs. These germs lead to the unpleasant odor.
Dander, textile fibers or dirt can also hide in the deep folds of the navel. Skin flakes can build up over a long period of time, especially in people with a deep navel. In the process, the flakes of skin are compressed into a solid mass and an umbilical stone is created, too Omphalith called. This usually appears brown or black and may be firmly anchored.
A navel infection or a fungal attack can also be the cause of a smelly navel. Inflammation can arise in connection with a piercing, psoriasis or contact allergies.

Read more on the topic: My belly button is inflamed - what can I do?

Concomitant symptoms

Often a foul smelling navel occurs without any further symptoms. This is a sign of easy germ settlement. However, if additional complaints occur, these can provide clues to the cause. Side effects of a smelly navel are more common

  • pus
  • Redness
  • additionally oozing navel
  • bloody navel
  • pain

In general, the appearance of blood, purulent secretion or pain are signals that indicate a cause to be treated. A doctor should therefore always be consulted.
If the rare but dangerous case occurs that the local inflammation becomes systemic, i.e. If the whole body has become inflammation, in addition to the local problems in the navel, there is also a general feeling of illness with fever. Blood poisoning may result, which requires urgent medical treatment. This happens when a navel infection is not treated adequately and subsequently spreads.

Smelly navel with discharge of pus

A purulent belly button is a sign of an infection that the body is fighting. Germs in the belly button activate the immune cells, which counteract the foreign substances. Pus is the product of submerged immune cells and tissue breakdown. Most of the time, pus is related to a bacterial infection that has caused inflammation.

Read more about this:

  • Pus in the navel
  • Inflammation of the belly button

Smelly and red navel

Reddening of the belly button suggests that it is inflamed. In the case of a navel infection, one often notices a greasy, smelly secretion and the surrounding area red and swollen skin. Psoriasis or a fungal attack can also lead to reddening of the navel. Reddening of the skin also occurs with a contact allergy. This can e.g. be triggered by a trouser button or a navel piercing.

Read more on the subject at: Navel piercing is inflamed and red spots around and above the navel

Smelly and oozing navel

In infants, oozing secretion can indicate an open embryonic connection to the bladder.
In adults, oozing can be an expression of a pus cavity or other inflammatory process. Fungal infections can also lead to an oozing navel. The exact diagnosis should be made by a doctor.

Smelly and bleeding navel

A bleeding belly button can have several causes. Part of the blood is simply based on a pimple in the belly button. In this case there is usually only a short-term leakage of blood. An insect bite can also be triggering in summer. Another reason for blood leakage from the belly button is an abscess. This is an encapsulated, infected pus cavity.
A bleeding navel is generally a symptom that should be investigated when you see a doctor. If the navel is inflamed or if there is an abscess, in the worst case scenario blood poisoning can occur.

Read more on the topic: Belly button is bleeding - what could be behind it?

Smelly and sore navel

If the stinking navel hurts and it is also reddened, then it is probably a navel infection.If there is more severe itching than real pain, this suggests a fungal infection.
However, pain can also appear in parallel with the bad smell of the belly button without the two symptoms being related. Belly button pain can rarely be a sign of an umbilical hernia. In women, gynecological diseases such as think of inflammation of the uterus or menstrual cramps.

Read more on the subject at: Pain in the navel

Treating a smelly navel

If the smelly navel is simply due to a lack of hygiene, the bad smell can be combated well by taking special care of the navel. It is important that the navel is cleaned specifically when showering. After the shower, the navel should be dried completely. If the angularity of the navel makes it difficult, a hair dryer can also be used. Then you can put some body lotion or Bepanthen® on your belly button to avoid dry skin.
Alternatively, the navel can also be cleaned with a wet cotton swab. With this method, too, make sure that the navel is then completely dried. For this, e.g. a dry cotton swab can also be used. If the umbilical stones have already arisen, they can be removed using tweezers.

If the navel is inflamed, the therapy depends heavily on the severity of the inflammation. It is therefore advisable to consult a doctor as the inflammation can spread further in the body.
In simple cases, an attempt can be made to alleviate the symptoms by applying Bepanthen.
Betaisodona, which contains iodine, is a disinfecting cream. This can be used to relieve inflammation. In the case of more severe bacterial inflammation, antibiotic therapy in the form of creams or tablets may be necessary.
In any case, a navel piercing should not be worn during an inflammation. It is also good to often carry your belly button free to encourage air dehydration.

If a purulent cavity has already formed, surgical removal of the pus may be necessary.
In the event of a fungal infection of the navel, so-called antimycotics, which specifically fight the fungus, can be used in the form of creams.

How is the diagnosis of a smelly belly button made?

If the unpleasant smell does not go with additional symptoms, such as If there is a discharge or pain, it is usually a matter of poor hygiene. Whether this diagnosis is correct can easily be tried out, as performing the recommended navel hygiene should lead to improvement after just a few days.
If other symptoms are present, a doctor should be consulted. Based on the appearance of the discharge or the coating, the doctor can decide whether it is an inflammation or a plicin infection and also take a smear to determine the exact pathogen. A blood test can show if the inflammation affects the whole body.

Duration of a smelly navel

The duration of the treatment depends entirely on the cause or the severity of the inflammation. While regular cleaning and drying of the umbilicus quickly leads to success in the case of simple germ colonization, treatment must take longer in the case of inflammation or a fungal attack. In the case of fungus or antibiotic treatment, it is important that the therapy is carried out consistently for two to three weeks, as this is the only way to guarantee that all pathogens have been fought. This must also be observed if the symptoms have already disappeared after a few days.