The belly button is susceptible to infections with various pathological organisms. It can affect people of different ages, being often encountered in people who have piercings or very small children. The susceptibility comes from the fact that the belly button in some people can be very deep; this leaves a lot of room for excess humidity. Plus, textile fibers can gather in the belly button, along with other debris. All of these things can contribute to bacterial growth or fungi development, causing either a bacterial or a viral infection. If you suspect a belly button infection, then you should consult a doctor and seek out the proper treatment.
Babies are highly susceptible to infections in the belly button area. This is especially valid for those who are newborn, as they have had the umbilical cord recently cut and that is practically like a wound. As they don’t have their immune system active and fully functioning, the lack of proper hygiene can ultimately lead to an infected belly button. This is the reason why mothers are instructed to give baths often to their newborn babies, with particular attention being given to the belly button area. Treating an infection in an infant is more difficult than in an adult, as there are complications to think about.
Identifying the correct cause of the infection is essential. Based on the symptoms a patient exhibits, the doctor will be able to identify the cause and provide a suitable treatment. Plus, he/she may recommend preventive hygiene measures, to ensure the infection does not appear again.
Symptoms of Infected Belly Button
These are the most common symptoms of an infected belly button:
- Inflammation – depends on the severity of the infection, ranging from mild to severe.
- Pain – as the infection progresses, the pain can reach high levels, causing a lot of discomfort.
- Redness – as there is infection in the area, the redness will become noticeable.
- Tenderness – the progression of the infection will cause the area to become tender to the touch.
- Discharge at the site of the infection – depending on the infectious organisms, pus mixed with blood might discharge from the belly button area. The discharge can have different colors but most of the times it is either yellow or green. A foul odor can be smelled at the site of the discharge.
- Warmth – the infection draws a lot of blood into the area; this is the reason why, besides inflammation and tenderness, there will also be warmth.
- Systemic symptoms can appear in more serious infections, including:
- Lymph nodes swelling
- General state of discomfort
Causes of Infected Belly Button
These are the most common causes that lead to the infected belly button:
- Debris accumulated into the belly button – this can include soap and other skin care products, textile fibers.
- Excessive humidity in the area – favors the development and growth of infectious microorganisms.
Lack of proper hygiene
- Not taking daily baths
- Using water that is contaminated with potential infectious microorganisms
- Not cleaning the belly button during the bath
- Not drying the area after the bath
- Leaving soap deposits in the belly button.
- If the piercing is done with instruments that have not been properly sterilized, then there is an increased risk of infection.
- Also, if the person performing the piercing does not use protective gloves, he/she can easily transmit the infection.
- Lack of proper hygiene in the area after a recent piercing experience can also lead to infection.
- Touching the belly button is a common mistake that many people make. Our hands have all sort of infectious microorganisms on them, some with a higher potential of infection.
- Constantly touching the belly button will lead to infection, especially if one does not washes his/her hands frequently.
- The micro-organisms transferred from the hands enjoy the darkness and humidity that the belly button has to offer.
- These can be applied topically or orally. The oral administration is recommended in the situation of a more severe bacterial infection, causing systemic symptoms.
- The prescribed antibiotics should be taken for the time period it is recommended, otherwise the infection will return and the bacteria will be more resistant to the said treatment.
- These are recommended in case of fungal infections
- They are applied topically to the belly button
- The patient is instructed to follow clear hygiene measures during and after the treatment period.
- This is recommended to disinfect the belly button area
- It can help to prevent the spread of the infection.
- These are recommended to help with the associated inflammation caused by the infection.
- They can also help the itchiness that appears during the healing period.
- The content of hydrocortisone should not be more than 1%.
- In severe infections, often caused by poorly made piercings, surgical intervention might be necessary.
- The surgeon will remove the infected tissue, making sure that there is as less scarring as it is possible.
- The patient is instructed to follow precise hygiene measures after going through such a procedure.
- Vinegar mixed with warm water – this can reduce the growth of the infectious bacteria or fungi.
- Salt mixed with warm water – salt is well known for its disinfecting properties, so you can use it as a home remedy for belly button infections.
- Compresses – in the initial stage, where there isn’t much redness or inflammation, you can apply a warm compress to reduce the pain. However, if the infection is more serious and there is a lot of redness or inflammation, it is far better to apply a cold compress.
- Tea tree oil – apply the tea tree oil with a cotton swab. It will help with the inflammation and other upsetting symptoms, such as the pain.
- Aloe Vera – this plant is well known for its healing properties. Use it on your belly button and it will help with the elimination of the infection.