Treating A Smelly Belly Button And Discharge

A belly button discharge or navel discharge, which occurs in both men and women, can be a smelly, white, clear, yellow or even green discharge. It generally indicates that your navel is infected. Some women may experience a smelly belly button drainage or leakage during pregnancy. Here’s everything that you need to know about belly button discharge.

What Causes Belly Button Discharge?

A moist environment promotes bacterial and fungal growth and causes a smelly belly button

Belly button discharge occurs because of a moist environment in the navel, which is colonized by fungus.1 It may also be accompanied by a lot of pain when it occurs. When dirt, bacteria, and germs inhabit inside your belly button and start multiplying, they cause the discharge, which is a result of an infection that is enhanced by the microorganisms. Usually, the smell can be quite foul. Occasionally, even infections, poor hygiene, or belly button piercings can cause navel discharge.

Makes The Belly Button Smell Or Stink?

A belly button that smells like fish or cottage cheese indicates an infection

When a belly button has a foul smell like poop, fish or cheese, it could be a medical concern. The bad odor may smell like rotten cheese or fish, or it could be just a mild foul smell. While most often, a smelly discharge is not a cause for concern, sometimes, when a foul odor is accompanied with discharge, it could indicate the presence of an infection.

It could also mean that you have a fungal infection, a wound developing, a belly button piercing healing, or accumulation of dirt and sweat, which attracts bacteria whose activity causes a bacterial infection. Even a bruised belly button skin can produce a foul smell.

Although the reason for a foul smell and discharge could be one of those mentioned below, you must still consult your doctor to find out the exact cause.

1. Yeast Infection

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Yeast infections, also known as fungal infections, are one of the most common causes of foul odor or stink in the navel area. Candida albicans, a fungus that thrives in warm and moist areas such as the navel and also in the mouth is likely to cause the foul odor. Common symptoms of a fungal or yeast infection in the navel include,

  • Slightly yellow discharge from the belly button
  • Liquid discharge accompanied by pain
  • Foul smell that persists despite regular cleaning

2. Bacterial Infection

Bacteria thrive in moist environment and can cause belly button infections

Bacterial activity within the navel can also cause signs such as warmth, a foul odor and sometimes discharge. When the navel is not cleaned regularly, bacteria begin to thrive, causing a warm sensation. This problem is common in people with innie belly buttons.

Besides the bad odor from the umbilicus, there may also be a pus-like discharge. If you don’t clean your belly button properly with the discharge coming out, the bacterial infection can worsen and cause pain and discomfort as it becomes a wound. These tips can help you prevent navel bacterial infection and bad smell.

  • After using soap to clean your belly button, rinse your navel thoroughly.
  • After an exercise, clean the navel to prevent sweat accumulation as it promotes bacterial growth and activity causing a foul smell.
  • Dry your navel properly after showers to prevent moisture accumulation.

3. Navel Odor After Surgery, Tummy Tuck Or Laparoscopy

Navel Odor After Surgery, Tummy Tuck Or Laparoscopy

Surgical procedures generally leave scabs on the skin due to healing. Sometimes, discharge and infections may occur after a tummy tuck or laparoscopy. Tubal ligation and gallbladder surgery can also cause your navel to emit a foul odor. Tummy tuck or abdominoplasty (plastic surgery of the abdomen) can sometimes cause a scar around the navel as it contracts, leaving the opening too tight and small in circumference.


causes the skin to slough and leaves debris to accumulate in the area and promote bacterial growth. That is why your navel becomes smelly after these surgeries. But, if you experience an unusual belly button odor a few months after a tummy tuck, there could be sutures that were retained and must be removed. Consult your doctor to have the problem treated.

4. Smelly Navel During Pregnancy And During Periods

Smelly belly button along with discharge can occur during pregnancy and periods

Some women may experience poop-like smell in their navels during pregnancy and their periods. During pregnancy and sometimes during ovulation or period, the metabolism of a woman’s body increases, causing more perspiration.

If the navel is not cleaned properly every day, it may emit the bad odor that smells like poop. Even certain infections could cause your navel to smell. If you are pregnant and the area is bruised or feels sore, consult a dermatologist for treatment.

Patent Urachus

Patent urachus may also cause a smelly belly button

During pregnancy, urine from the fetus drains into the mother’s bladder through the urachus (a canal that joins and runs within the umbilical cord). This tube connects the bladder and the umbilicus to help with the removal of waste during the first trimester of pregnancy. A foul-smelling discharge from the umbilical cord may occur due to a condition called patent urachus or a urachus cyst.2

It’s a congenital problem that results from the failure of the urachus to close up, leaving an open channel between the umbilicus and the bladder after pregnancy. Bacterial infections in the opening can result in a clear discharge or, sometimes yellow or green with a foul odor, from the navel.

6. Diabetes

Diabetes is another disease that can cause foul odor in the belly button


or high blood pressure can also worsen the health of the navel and cause a discharge from the navel, which can be foul-smelling like rotting cheese or fish. The discharge may also appear like cottage cheese. In some cases, even pain may accompany the odor and some discharge.

7. Infected Navel Piercing Wound

Infected Navel Piercing Wound

Even an infected belly button piercing may emanate a foul smell or discharge from the navel, especially if it appears as a yellowish or greenish discharge. Navel piercing wounds can turn into an abscess or crusty scabs. Besides the foul odor, there may be bleeding or piercing bumps, pain and an itchy sensation around the piercing. Cleaning the area with alcohol or antiseptic can help prevent the infection from getting worse.

How To Eliminate Foul Odor In The Navel?

Topical creams and ingestible medications can help treat a smelly belly button


the underlying cause of the odor is important to eliminate the stink. Infections of the navel can be treated using natural remedies or with medications. Consult your doctor to determine the best treatment depending on the cause of the problem.

Fungal infections and bacterial infections cannot be treated the same way. Even topical creams and ingestible medications can also be used. Surgery may be required to treat patent urachus and the procedure eliminates the infections in the urinary tract and urinary incontinence, both of which can cause belly button odor.

Natural Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Belly Button Smell

Cleaning your baby’s navel with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol can help prevent infections

  • Use salt water or a saline solution to get rid of the infection as it absorbs moisture around the navel and prevents the bacteria from spreading. Regularly cleaning the navel prevents bacterial growth.
  • Use a warm compress if you experience pain or if the area is sore and red.
  • Tea tree oil has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that help in healing belly button infections.
  • Dip a clean cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and swab it gently twice a day on your newborn’s umbilical cord if it stinks.
  • Avoid applying soaps, creams or lotions to the navel.
  • If the problem persists, consult a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.