Why does My Belly button Smell?



There are various reasons why your belly button, also known as the navel, might smell funny. It may be due to hygiene, an infection or some reasons completely unrelated. The common causes of infection in the navel are piercings, fungal infection, yeast infection and obesity. Usually, people have report that the inside of their belly button has bit of a smell, which can be generally described as unpleasant. And hence, you are prompted to ask why does my belly button smell.

When the smell of the belly button is accompanied by symptoms such as redness in the affected area, swelling, pain and a discharge, you should figure out the cause and seek treatment. Belly button is a warm and moist area of the body; hence there is a higher probability of bacteria growth and infection resulting from it. And once the infection develops, there is a discharge and an unpleasant smell in your belly button. Following are some common causes of a smelly belly button.

Shape of the Belly Button
In many cases, belly button’s shape can increase the probability of an unpleasant smell, especially when not clean regularly. Some people have navels faced inwards while some have navels faced outwards. The navel shapes that are inward are called innies and the navel shapes that are outward are called outies. Belly button is a single spot in the body where oil and dirt can gather and bacteria can usually thrive. The innie-styled navels are more prone to bacterial growth, which results in unpleasant odor. Unpleasant smell also occurs in outies shaped navels, but to a lesser extent.

Development of Infection

Bacterial Infections
Bacterial infections can develop in unclean, unwashed belly buttons. When a smelly belly button and a pus-like excretion occur together, it is often caused by a bacterial infection. Furthermore, sweat, soap and other substances remaining in the navel cavity can support bacterial growth and infection. The discharge can be yellow or brown in color and cause painful swelling.

Fungal Infections
Fungal infections is characterized by common symptoms such a smell, discharge and pain. The most common cause of such infections is candida. Candida albicans flourish in warm and moist areas such as the mouth, nose and urinary tract and of course belly button. Fungus infections cause smell, swelling and discharge. In case the area is scratched, bleed and worsening of condition can occur.

Patent Urachus
Unpleasant, foul smell and discharge from the navel cavity can be caused by a condition called as patent urachus. The urachus is a tube which connects the bladder and the umbilicus. Generally, the urachus closes up after birth. However, there are times when the tube does not close. An open urachus results in bacterial and fungal infections that result in unpleasant odor and discharge in the belly button.

Post-Surgical Infections
After a surgical procedure, often an unpleasant belly button and pus-like discharge can develop due to a post operation infection. The most common reason is tubal ligation and causes redness, pain and swelling along with the smell.

The odor and condition of the belly button can be affected by a high blood sugar. For instance, when a person has diabetes, a cottage cheese like discharge with a foul smell may come from the belly button.

Rare Skin Conditions
There are few skin conditions that can cause or worsen the smell of the belly button and increase the production of bacteria, however they are rare.

Sebaceous Cysts: A sebaceous cyst can cause smell and discharge in the belly button, but it is very rare. Cyst is not an alarming condition, but any infection can cause itching or scratching and may need treatment.
Eczema: Eczema may create dead skin cells that can cause them to chip off and clog the navel cavity. It can be worsen with the development of bacterial growth and oils that cause the smell.

How to Prevent Smelly Belly Button

In order to prevent smelly belly button, you need to determine the reason for the unpleasant smell so that you can take appropriate remedial action. In case, the smelly belly button is caused by unclean navel cavity, which is the most common reason, you can clean the small, hard to reach area of the navel by means of q-tips or cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is an antiseptic substance that prevents the growth of bacteria and eliminates the moisture from inside the navel cavity. Other substitutes can be witch hazel or hydrogen peroxide. The smell can be suppressed temporary with deodorant and anti-perspirants. Furthermore, clean your navel properly in the shower as a good hygiene practice that reduces the smell from lower levels to nil. In case, the smell and other symptoms as described above are persistent, you should consult a doctor.
Smelly belly button can be embarrassing and if not treated properly potentially serious. Therefore, people experiencing unpleasant odors and discharge from the belly button, you should obtain medical attention. Maintain cleanliness of your navel cavity and keeping it dry, however, can prevent bacterial infestation and hence infections.

Author: Zaib Fatima Rizvi

Facebook Comments
Help us improve. Please rate this article:

10 Responses

  1. jtxl

    August 29, 2012 8:11 pm

    I had this problem after having to use steroid creams to treat psoriasis in the belly button. For years I tried everything over the counter-antibacterial and anti fungal. I tried presc. silvadine cream, I tried alcohol, peroxide, witch hazel, all kinds of astringents, I tried soaking cottonballs in salt water & tucked in belly button. I even tried packing it with salt and using a bandaid to hold it in. Nothing worked so I was constantly cleaning it out to try to keep the smell down……and then……I had some dental work done that left me kind of tender so my dentist wrote a prescription for *Peridex Oral Rinse* I soaked a q-tip in the peridex and used it to clean out my belly button and again left in for a couple minutes to let as much as possible soak in. I couldn’t believe it but it worked right away. It was still gone after a couple more days so just to be sure, I did the same treatment for a couple more days. It has been over a year now and the smell & discharge has not come back. I am blown away at how long I dealt with it and then just in a few minutes it is gone forever. The peridex is prescription but also very cheap. My doctor said great and that he thought I should share my story. Good luck anyone who is dealing with this, there definitely is hope.

    • e. daniel

      November 28, 2012 7:46 pm

      Hibiclens can be found over the counter in some places. It has the same main active ingredient as Peridex. For those trying peridex, with a prescription, some target stores sell the generic for $4 as part of their discounted prescription program (possible that walmart may have that too).

  2. theOne

    May 1, 2013 8:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I have had something similar as of recent. Wasnt too sure what to do…unconsciously i failed to take action due to thinking was very serious….i know i know that should trigger instant reaction, but i am not a fan of hospitals nor doctors. I am more the natural if u will; believing most drs cure one thing only while triggering another (not their fault; they are blind are not trained on basic fundamentals of the body). What i can tell you all is that our body cannot and will not be a host for infection or any nature is we can sustain a 7+ ph level (alkaline/ph level), simply the body beingmore oxygenated and less acidic…dictated mainly off our food/liquid intake.. Not even disease can even exist in the human body with ph at 7.36 or higher. Stage 4 cancer can be cured within 4 to 16 weeks simply by bringing the ph level to 7+ (instant results).

  3. express8

    July 21, 2014 10:29 pm

    I am a mother of 6 and I have this issue on and off for years. I use starts happening when I lose weight . This time I really have been trying , but it just showed up so fast. My stomach has been hurting real bad for 3days now. I took my shirt off to get in the shower and there is was my newly was red and smelly and it has puss coming out. I took a shower this morning and it wasn’t there. I had to take another shower because my stomach was hurting and bent o er and I pee my pants. So my question isshould iI go to the doctor for this.

  4. c vitjor

    August 2, 2014 2:38 pm

    Whoa here. The basic number one reason by far, is dead skin cells. Let’s get basic; folds of skin that are in moist areas, are in everyone’s body and accumulate dead skin, this is normal. Take a bath and clean these areas! The naval, crease behind the ears, genitalia etc (that is why circumsion was invented!) It is called smegma and is a normal sloughing off off dead cells in everyone. Those with a deeper belly button just need to be more fastidious in cleaning. Normal, normal, normal.

  5. isaiah

    September 8, 2016 2:24 pm

    Mine smells too. Infact I see some little black dirt wen I check and BOY!!! It stinks real baaaad!!! Buh its jst dirt!!! Regular cleaning z d perfect solution!!!


Leave a Reply