Have you ever wondered why your belly button smells like poop, fish or rotten cheese? This is the most common question that people often ask their dermatologists. From a health point of view, when your navel produces bad odour, it could be because of any discharge or medical issue. Whereas, in other cases, the smell may be because of poor hygiene.
Why Belly Button Smells Like Poop or Cheese
The foul smell emanates from the belly button can mean different things. However, most of the times it is not a matter of concern, but if it is accompanied by discharge, it could be because of the rotting of dead skin cells from the inside that attracts bacteria whose activity will result in bacterial or fungal infection.
Here are the possible causes of a stinky belly button:
Fungal or Yeast infection
Fungal infection is also known as yeast infection. Sometimes a stinky navel can be a sign of a condition that requires medical treatment, like a fungal or bacterial infection or cyst. If you experience a foul smell in the navel that accompanies with liquid discharge and pain, it may be because of fungal infection. Candida albicans is a type of fungus that lives in the warm and humid area like the belly button. The presence of fungus in the navel hole causes the foul odour.
Bacterial activity inside the navel also causes symptoms such as a bad smell and pus like discharge. People who have “innie” navels are more prone to get fungal or bacterial infections. If you do not clean your belly button properly a clear discharge (or sometimes green or yellow) will come out, which worsen the bacterial infection and you will start feeling pain and a lot more uneasiness as now bacteria will start to grow. Hence, it is crucial to clean the area well to prevent navel bacterial infection.
Abdominoplasty or Laparoscopy
Navel surgeries, such as tummy tuck or abdominoplasty and laparoscopy, also make your belly button smell. These surgical operations usually leave scabs on the navel due to healing. This promotes bacterial growth inside the navel and makes your belly button smell after the surgery. If you start feeling pain or any discharge in your navel after surgery, see a surgeon as early as possible.
Build-up of Sweat and Dirt Around and Within the Navel
The main and the most common reason for the belly button odour is poor hygiene. When the dirt, sweat, and bacteria from your clothes get trapped in your belly button, it causes an unpleasant smell. Even the umbilical cords of new-born babies stink during the first few weeks of life as their navel heals as well. You might not know that belly button is the home of on average 67 types of bacteria. And the more indentation of our belly button, the more germs and dirt can accumulate in it.
Pregnancy and Menstruation
Many women say that their belly buttons smell like faecal matter during their periods and pregnancy. During ovulation and pregnancy, the metabolism of the body increases that make the women sweat more. Therefore, it is necessary to clean your belly button well otherwise it will cause a strong, unpleasant odour. If your area is wounded or bruised, consider consulting a dermatologist for treatment.
Sometimes a medical condition such as urachal cyst or patent urachus may also result in a smelly belly button. In this health condition, a foul-smelling discharge emanates from the umbilical cord. Urachus is a tube that allows the passage of urine from the foetus to the mother’s bladder in the first trimester. And when the urachus won’t close, it makes the bacteria to grow there and cause a clear, green or yellow discharge accompanied by a foul smell from the navel. Apart from this, high blood pressure and diabetes also exacerbate the health of the navel as these health issues weaken the immune system and thus do not allow your body to fight off infections.
Navel Piercing Infection
Improper healing of a navel piercing also results in an infection that accompanies foul smell, swelling, or smelly discharge from the navel. And wounds from infected belly button piercing may turn into crusty scabs and blisters. The person may also experience persistent pain, itchy feeling or bleeding in the area around a piercing.
Ways to Avoid Smelly Belly Button
- You should regularly take the time to wash your belly button well with soap and warm water. And ensure to rinse and dry it thoroughly afterward, so it is not moist.
- You can also use salt water to cleanse the belly button and avoid bacteria growth
- If you exercise, make sure to clean your belly button hole well to prevent the build-up of dirt and sweat. Because the combination of dust, dirt, and sweat encourages bacterial growth and activity, which causes stinky navel.
- Do not apply excessive lotion or cream in or around the navel. It can create an environment where the germs can grow and thrive more easily.
- Do not wear tight clothes because it can aggravate the infected portion.
- Cut down sugar in your diet, especially if you are a diabetic.
- To manage an infected belly button piercing, clean the area with antimicrobial hand soap, tea tree oil or alcohol. Also, remove the jewellery in the infected area.
You don’t need to see your doctor for hygiene issues. Washing gently your belly button every day will resolve the hygiene issue. However, if you experience pus, swelling, discharge, fever or, pain in your abdomen or when you urinate, do make an appointment with your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
A doctor will give you an antifungal or antibiotic cream to apply around the infected area. Or if there is a sebaceous cyst, he/she might inject the cyst with medication, drain it or remove it completely.