Why Does my Belly Button Smell?


Do you ever wonder why your belly button smells? From the point of view of your health, it could indicate a simple discharge or a medical issue. It is also related to hygiene, especially if your navel is an “innie”.

Here are the causes for the smell, along with ways to treat it.

The smell from your navel may mean poor hygiene or infection. It is especially common for people who have belly button piercings. What is that so? Piercings, before they have healed, may become infected or bleed, which causes wounds. Symptoms like warmth or moistness in the area of your navel can mean you have a problem that needs to be medically addressed.

Bacteria live and thrive in the navel.

A smell from your belly button could be caused by a developing wound, fungal infection, the improper healing of a belly button piercing or a buildup of sweat and dirt. This can attract bacteria, which leads to infection. Bruised skin in the navel can also produce a bad odor. Now that you know what the smell could mean, here are the causes of belly button smell.

So why DOES your belly button smell?

  1. A bacterial infection can cause a smelly navel.

Bacterial activity in the navel will cause symptoms including warmth, foul smell and at times a discharge. If you don’t wash the area, bacteria can thrive and then grow. This issue is more common for people who have “innie” navels. You may even have a pus-like discharge, which worsens the situation by introducing more bacteria.

To prevent this problem:

  • Clean your navel carefully when you wash, and rinse it well.
  • Wash the navel after you exercise, so there won’t be sweat accumulation.
  • After a shower, dry the belly button well, so it isn’t moist.
  1. Bad smell and yeast infection in navel

article-5-pic-2Crusty belly button from yeast infection.

Yeast infections are sometimes referred to as fungal infections. A common sign is a foul odor. Candida albicans is a fungus that thrives in warm, moist areas like the navel. This may cause the smell. Other signs of a yeast or fungal infection of your navel include:

  • Pain with liquid discharge
  • Discharge that is usually yellow in color
  • Bad smell that won’t go away even after thorough washing
  1. Foul smelling navel during period or pregnancy

Some women report that they have a foul odor from their navel during their period or pregnancy. What causes that? And why does it occur only at those times?

During your period and pregnancy, your body metabolism increases, making you sweat more. If you don’t carefully cleanse your navel well, the excess moisture can cause the foul odor.

Infection also causes more smell from the navel. If you are pregnant and the belly button area is sore or bruised, consult a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment.

  1. Bad navel smell after laparoscopy, tummy tuck or other surgery

If you have recently undergone surgery in the area of the navel, you may be asking yourself, “Why does my belly button smell now?”

Surgeries generally heal and leave scabs on your skin. But discharge and infection can also follow surgeries in the stomach region. Gall bladder removal and tubal ligation procedures may also cause an odor from your navel, according to Med Guidance.

  1. Smelly discharge from navel related to diabetes

High blood pressure or diabetes may worsen navel health. The smell of the discharge in these cases resembles fish or rotting cheese, and it may even LOOK somewhat like cottage cheese.

  1. Belly button smell from patent urachus

article-5-pic-3Types of patent urachus

If you’re pregnant, urine drains from your fetus into your own bladder through the urachus channel. This is a tube that connects the umbilicus and bladder, to aid with waste excretion in your first trimester.

A bad smell emanating from the umbilical may be caused by a urachus cyst or patent urachus. This results when your urachus won’t close up. Infections that occur in this opening may cause odor, along with clear, green or yellow discharge.

  1. Wound from an infected navel piercing

article-5-pic-4Infected piercing in the navel

HealCure reports that one sign of an infection in the navel after a piercing is a discharge or foul odor. It is most likely infected if the drainage is yellow or green. Wounds from navel piercings may turn into crusty scabs or abscesses.

In addition to a bad smell, you may experience itchiness, piercing bumps and pain or bleeding around your piercing hole. Be sure to clean the area well with an antiseptic or rubbing alcohol to prevent spreading or growth.

Belly button discharge with small, crusty scabs and bleeding

Does your navel have a discharge? Skin infections in this area may cause discharge and drainage from the navel. If it’s itchy and has a smelly discharge, see your physician, so that the infection can be properly diagnosed and treated.

article-5-pic-5White discharge from infected belly button

Why does my belly button smell like my anus, or like fecal matter?

One of the deepest navel odors is often described as smelling like a bowel movement. It may sound funny unless you’re the one experiencing it, right? In most cases, a foul odor that smells like poop is due to dead skin cells rotting in the navel. This causes an increase in the activity of bacteria, which leads to that horrible smell coming from your navel.

Why does your navel smell like fish or cheese?

You may describe the smell from your belly button as being like that of rotting fish or cheese. If your navel smells like this, it may be for the same basic reasons as those who have a navel odor that smells like a bowel movement. The odor is deeply foul and may arise from increased fungal and bacterial activity, an infection and possibly some discharge that was not properly cleaned out.

If this problem persists, consult your physician for a thorough treatment or cleaning to rid yourself of the buildup of bacteria in your umbilical fold.

Getting rid of smell in the belly button

It’s not that difficult to make your navel smell better. By treating underlying causes of the smell, you’ll be rid of that odor. Whether you treat the infections naturally or medically, you can be odor-free.

Treatments for a smelly navel

Your physician can determine the most optimal course of treatment for your navel, depending on the problem’s cause. For example, bacterial and fungal infections do not originate from the same source, and the same treatment won’t work on both of them. They each have ingestible medicine and topical creams that WILL work, as long as you are using the right one.

Treatments for the other types of smelly navel we have discussed include:

  • Antifungal medications and creams can get rid of navel smells resulting from a yeast infection.
  • Topical antibacterial creams can be prescribed by your physician to help in solving the smell if the problem is a bacterial infection in the navel.
  • If you have patent urachus, described above, surgery is often recommended for correction of the physical problem. It will help to get rid of infection in your urinary tract, along with urinary incontinence or even cancer that is causing the odor.

Home remedies for belly button smell remediation

Since your navel is one of bacteria’s favorite places in the body, you need to properly care for it, and be alert to its problems. Here are some ways to reduce odor from the navel and get rid of its causes:

  • Use a saline solution or salt water to cleanse the area. It will absorb excess moisture, making it difficult for the growth of bacteria. Clean the navel regularly and it will prevent bacteria growth.
  • Do not apply lotions or creams in the navel. When it is not kept free of moisture and debris, you will be attracting bacteria.
  • Use rubbing alcohol on your belly button. Dip a cotton ball in your rubbing alcohol and swab it in your navel, or on your baby’s umbilical cord. Doing this twice each day will help in minimizing that smell.
  • Tea tree oil works well at healing navel infections. It has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that heal navel infections promptly.
  • Use warm compresses if the area is red and sore or if you have pain.

Aside from natural remedies, the best thing to do to keep your navel smelling fine is to keep it clean. Then you won’t have to ask “Why does my belly button smell?” any more.

If your problem recurs or won’t leave, see your dermatologist for diagnosis and proper treatment of recurring issues with infection.

This VIDEO shows how you can treat belly button infections.


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