Belly Button Infections – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


Being umbilicus in shape, the belly button (navel) is highly susceptible to infections. As a matter of fact, belly button infections have become very common, a fact attributed to several factors. In addition to its susceptibility, the belly button is in most cases dark, warm and moist, perfect conditions for growth of microorganisms. 

Causes of Belly Button Infections

The fact that some of the water and soap used while bathing gets trapped in the belly button increases the risk of infections. Although belly button infections are largely caused by bacteria and fungi, there are factors that encourage the same. Such include:

  • Piercing

Belly button piercing has of late become one of the ways through which people (mostly women) express themselves. Although it is a form of style and fashion statement, belly piercing performed in a wrong way can easily lead to belly button piercing infection.

  • Regular Touching 

Regular touching of the belly button increases the risk of infection. It is not always that hands are clean and regularly touching the navel increases the risk of depositing bacteria or fungi in the navel. With its moist and warm nature, microorganisms are bound to grow fast and cause infection.

  • Poor hygiene 

Poor hygiene is a major cause of belly button infection. Failure to take bath on a daily basis gives microorganisms room to grow within the button, leading to infection. Bathing with unclean water also increases risk of infection. More importantly however, failing to clean the navel while bathing and drying the area leaves water and soap deposits in the navel, which encourage growth of microorganisms.

Belly Button Infection Symptoms

Belly button infection symptoms are varied and occur in stages. At the abscess (initial) stage, one is likely to notice swelling accompanied by mild pain. As infection develops, more serious symptoms appear. This is usually in the cellulitis (later) stage. At this stage, the swelling is likely to puncture and cause discharge. Further development of the infection covers the entire belly area, which is bound to become warm. Discharge changes in color; from pure liquid to grayish, yellowish or greenish. The same also turns smelly. In some cases, bleeding may occur. One is also likely to develop nausea feeling.

Treatment of Belly Button Infections

Although belly button infection can lead to complicated health conditions and therefore require medical attention, such infection is more serious during pregnancy. While it is true that belly button pain can be because of infection, most cases of pain are a direct result of pain due to belly button piercing. It is very important for women planning to attain pregnancy to avoid piercing their navel so as to prevent health problems during pregnancy.

Effective treatment for belly button treatment is best obtained at the initial stage. This is when a doctor can prescribe safe antibiotics and topical applications. Embarking on treatment at a later stage involves the use of powerful antibiotics that otherwise cause adverse side effects. In extreme cases, surgery is usually undertaken. This is usually when the infection has covered a wide area of the belly and possibly affected other internal organs. Apart from conventional medications, other effective remedies are available that can treat infections at the initial stage. Such include the use of alcohol, which is a powerful disinfectant.

The time it takes for belly button infection to heal can be long. In most cases, healing is obtained after six months. It can take up to two years for one to obtain full healing. This is due to the fact that the navel is tender and moist. When the long time it takes to heal and likely complications are taken into consideration, preventing belly button infection should be everyone’s priority. 

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