Did you catch a whiff of something stinky that is coming from yourself? The belly button might not even cross your mind, but it might be the culprit. However, belly button odor isn’t normal, so it’s important to know the causes and how to fix it.
What Is A Belly Button Odor?
It’s almost always caused by poor hygiene. The belly button, or navel, is like a bacterial jungle. It’s not much different than the rest of your skin! Most of these bacteria are harmless, but sometimes, they can get out of control.1
Causes Of Belly Button Odor
The belly button odor could be due to these causes, so keep an eye out for them.
1. Poor Hygiene Habits
Belly button bacteria don’t live alone. They hang out with fungi, germs, and everything in between. If you don’t practice good hygiene, these microbes mix with dirt, sweat, and oil. The result is pretty stinky, just like when your armpits sweat and mix with bacteria.2
- Control bacterial growth by regularly bathing.
- All you need is mild soap, warm water, and a few minutes.
- It’s also a good idea to shower after exercise and on hot days.
- Don’t forget to do your laundry as it is the only way to remove germs and sweat from your clothes.
Infections never smell pleasant, and a belly button infection is no different. The dark and moist space lets bacteria and yeast go wild. Redness, pus, and bleeding are common.
Poor hygiene can increase the risk, but so can a small injury. Be gentle and avoid damaging the skin in and around your belly button. Did you just get your belly button pierced? It can also get infected, so pay attention.3
- If the infection is minor, apply tea tree oil with a cotton swab as it is antibacterial and antifungal in nature.
- Otherwise, visit your doctor as soon as possible, especially if there’s pus.
Most cysts show up on the face, ears, neck, back, and scalp – but don’t be surprised if you get one around the belly button. It can affect any part of the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin.
A cyst is a closed sac filled with skin components like keratin, a whitish cheesy substance. You can blame a blocked hair follicle for this. However, good hygiene will prevent oil, sweat, and dirt from clogging things up.
- Never try to remove a cyst by yourself.
- It can easily become infected, causing more problems than before.
- A doctor can examine the cyst and decide how it should be removed, if at all.
Other Symptoms To Look Out For
The odor is just one red flag. If you notice any of these other symptoms, get in touch with your doctor.
- Pain during urination
- Pain inside your stomach
How To Clean Your Belly Button
Try these simple ways to safely clean your belly button.
- Apply unscented antibacterial soap on a washcloth. Castile soap works great.
- Lather up. Wrap the washcloth around a finger, and gently wash the inside of your belly button.
- If you’d like, use a cotton swab and coconut or olive oil to remove any dirt. Again, be extra gentle.
If you have a belly button piercing, take care of it while it heals. Always disinfect new jewelry before putting it in. To avoid skin damage, don’t tug or pull it.
|↑1||Hulcr, Jiri, Andrew M. Latimer, Jessica B. Henley, Nina R. Rountree, Noah Fierer, Andrea Lucky, Margaret D. Lowman, and Robert R. Dunn. “A jungle in there: bacteria in belly buttons are highly diverse, but predictable.” PLoS One 7, no. 11 (2012): e47712.|
|↑2||Sweat. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑3||Pazyar, Nader, Reza Yaghoobi, Nooshin Bagherani, and Afshin Kazerouni. “A review of applications of tea tree oil in dermatology.” International journal of dermatology 52, no. 7 (2013): 784-790.|