Belly Button Infection: Causes And 11 Natural Treatments

Follow these simple home remedies to keep your belly button happy and healthy.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Zeel Gandhi, BAMS Dr. Zeel Gandhi Dr. Zeel GandhiBAMS
Written by , MSc Shaheen Naser MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English) Dipti Sharma MA (English) linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
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A belly button infection can be caused by a buildup of dirt or bacteria. Even if you don’t pay much attention to your belly button, the warning signs and symptoms indicated below must be handled right away to avoid more serious problems later on. Dr. Anna Chacon, a double board-certified dermatologist and a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, says, “Yeast infections in the belly button are not frequently infectious. Those with compromised immune systems should exercise extra caution near people who have yeast infections. They are at a higher risk of contracting an infection.” In this article, we have listed the best home remedies for a belly button infection. Keep reading to learn more!

What Causes An Infection In The Belly Button?

It might sound surprising, but there are numerous bacteria living inside your belly button that usually don’t cause any problems in healthy individuals. However, some factors can contribute to the development of belly button infections.

Depending on the cause, belly button infections are classified into the following types:

  • Bacterial Infection: Sweat, lint, or residues of cosmetic products can lead to bacterial growth and infection in the belly button. If you notice a brown or yellow discharge from your belly button, it is an indication of a bacterial infection.
  • Sebaceous Cysts: The formation of a sebaceous cyst in your belly button may also lead to an infection. These cysts are easily infected upon scratching.
  • Fungal Infections (Red Belly Button): Fungal infections, such as those caused by Candida, can occur anywhere in the body, including the belly button. If your belly button turns red and tender, it is a sign of a fungal infection.

A study conducted on 44,689 participants found that more than 94 million people in Europe report having itchy, burning, or dry skin. Furthermore, the most prevalent conditions in people over 18 were fungal skin infections (8.9%), followed by atopic dermatitis or eczema (5.5%) and acne (5.4%) respectively.

  • Urachal Cysts: The infection of the duct within the umbilical cord that enables the drainage of urine from the fetus is referred to as a urachal cyst.
  • Diabetic Infection: If you notice a cottage cheese-like discharge from your belly button, it means that you have developed an infection as a result of diabetes. Dr. Chacon says, “Diabetes and high blood sugar levels can also have an impact on one’s belly button health. Individuals with diabetes are more prone to infections, and the illness may also hinder infections from healing quickly.”

Certain factors can also increase your risk of developing a belly button infection. They include:

  • An infection of the belly button piercing
  • Poor hygiene
  • Obesity
  • Touching the belly button frequently
  • An abdominal surgery
  • A wound or injury near the belly button
  • Type of clothing
  • Pregnancy

Those affected by a belly button infection may experience the following signs and symptoms.

Signs And Symptoms Of A Belly Button Infection

  • Pain in the belly button
  • Inflammation and swelling of the belly button
  • Skin turns warm
  • Itching or tingling sensation in the belly button
  • Greenish, yellowish, or brownish discharge from the belly button
  • Unpleasant smell from your navel
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Belly button bleeding

Nobody likes to harbor infection. In fact, you will want to get rid of it at the earliest. If you wonder, “Will a belly button infection go away on its own?” Yes, sometimes it does, However, we have listed a few home remedies to treat your belly button infection naturally.

11 Best Ways To Treat A Belly Button Infection Naturally

1. Coconut Oil

A belly button infection may be treated with coconut oil
Image: Shutterstock

Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids that exhibit excellent anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties (1), (2). These properties not only fight the infection-causing microbes but also help in healing the inflammation and swelling in the belly button.

You Will Need

Coconut oil (as required)

What You Have To Do

  1. Take a little coconut oil on your fingers and apply it directly to your belly button.
  2. Leave it on and allow your skin to absorb the oil.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this multiple times daily.

2. Salt Water

A saline solution helps reduce the moisture inside your belly button, preventing further infection. Salt has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties (3), (4). This can help combat the existing infection as well as itching and inflammation in the belly button.

You Will Need

  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of warm water

What You Have To Do

  1. Add a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and mix well.
  2. Put a few drops of this saline solution in your navel.

How Often You Should Do This

You can do this several times daily until you get relief.

3. Warm Compress

A hot compress has many uses. From combating microbial infections to relieving pain and inflammation – it can do it all. Hence, you may also use a hot compress to get rid of a belly button infection (5).

You Will Need

  • Hot water
  • A clean washcloth

What You Have To Do

  1. Take a clean washcloth and dip it in medium-hot water.
  2. Wring out the excess water and place the warm compress directly on your belly button.
  3. Leave it on for a few minutes. Repeat as required.

How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2 to 3 times daily.

4. Essential Oils

Essential oils, diluted with carrier oils, may be used to relieve a belly button infection
Image: Shutterstock

a. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is another excellent remedy to treat a belly button infection. It possesses antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties (6), (7). These properties can help kill the infection-causing microbes and provide relief from itching, swelling, and pain.

You Will Need

  • 2-3 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil

What You Have To Do

  • Add a few drops of tea tree oil to a teaspoon of coconut oil and mix well.
  • Apply this mixture directly to the infected belly button.
  • Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Wipe it off.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2 to 3 times daily for faster recovery.

b. Peppermint Oil

The soothing properties of peppermint essential oil can relieve inflammation. It also has antimicrobial properties that can help eliminate the microbes causing the infection in your belly button (8).

You Will Need

  • 2-3 drops of peppermint oil
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix peppermint oil with coconut oil.
  2. Apply this blend to your belly button and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Wipe it off with a tissue.

How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2 to 3 times every day.

5. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is especially useful if you are dealing with a pus-filled cyst in your belly button. Its antiseptic properties can combat the infection while its drying properties can speed up the healing of the cyst (9), (10).

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1-2 tablespoons of water
  • Cotton pads

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix the hydrogen peroxide with water.
  2. Soak a cotton pad in it and apply it to your belly button.
  3. Leave it on and allow it to dry naturally.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this only once daily.

6. White Vinegar

The presence of acetic acid in vinegar imparts antiseptic properties to it, thereby helping it fight the infection-causing microbes. It also has natural disinfectant properties (11). This can help in treating a belly button infection

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • Cotton pads

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix a tablespoon of white vinegar and two tablespoons of water.
  2. Soak a cotton pad in this mixture and apply it directly to the affected area.
  3. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Rinse it off with water.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2 to 3 times every day until the infection is treated.

7. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a natural remedy for belly button infections
Image: Shutterstock

Aloe vera gel is widely known for its wonderful healing properties. The plant contains more than 200 ingredients of medical importance, which exhibit anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties (12), (13), (14). These properties can help in healing an existing belly button infection while also relieving the inflammatory symptoms.

You Will Need

Aloe vera gel

What You Have To Do

  1.  Apply aloe vera gel directly to the affected area.
  2. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes, after which you can wash it off with water.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2 to 3 times daily.

8. Turmeric

Turmeric is one of the best remedies to treat a belly button infection. It contains curcumin that exhibits powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties (15), (16), (17). It can also speed up healing and reduce the swelling, itching, and inflammation caused by the infection in your belly button (18).

You Will Need

  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Water (as required)

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix a teaspoon of turmeric with enough water to make a thick paste.
  2. Apply the paste directly to your belly button.
  3. Allow it to dry and then rinse it off with water.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this at least once daily.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Avoid applying creams or lotions to your belly button because the moisture from these products may cause bacterial or fungal growth.

9. Indian Lilac (Neem)

Indian lilac may soothe a belly button infection
Image: Shutterstock

Neem is widely used to treat various ailments due to its powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties (19), (20). It not only accelerates healing but also relieves itching and inflammation in the belly button.

You Will Need

  • A handful of neem leaves
  • Water
  • A pinch of turmeric (optional)

What You Have To Do

  1. Grind a handful of neem leaves with water to form a smooth paste.
  2. You can also add a pinch of turmeric to this paste for added benefits.
  3. Apply the paste to the infected belly button and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes or until it dries completely.
  4. Wash it off with water.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

10. Rubbing Alcohol

The antiseptic nature of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) disinfects and sterilizes the belly button, which prevents the infection from spreading further (21).

Caution: Rubbing alcohol can dry your skin and must not be used more than twice daily.

You Will Need

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton pads

What You Have To Do

  1. Take a few drops of rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad and apply it directly to the affected area.
  2. Leave it on to be absorbed.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

11. Calendula

Calendula is widely used in traditional medicines for treating wounds, infections, and mild skin conditions due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties (22). It may also help speed up the wound-healing process without any potential side effects (23).

You Will Need

  • 2 tablespoons of dried calendula flowers
  • 1 cup of any carrier oil (coconut, olive, jojoba, etc.)

What You Have To Do

  1. Add the carrier oil to a pan and heat it until it is warm but not boiling.
  2. Add dried calendula flowers to a glass jar and pour the oil over them.
  3. Let the oil infuse for a few days and strain the flowers.
  4. Apply a little bit of the oil directly to your belly button.
  5. Leave it on and allow your skin to absorb the oil.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

You can also use other natural ingredients like garlic, neem oil, and chamomile tea to manage skin infections as they have potent antimicrobial properties (24)(25)(26).  These remedies can help you combat the infection and the associated inflammation. If you got a piercing lately or have diabetes, your chances of developing a belly button infection are higher. Hence, you may want to follow these prevention tips.

Prevention Tips

  • Wash your hands before touching your belly button piercing.
  • Do not sleep on your tummy.
  • Wear loose clothes made of natural fabrics.
  • Shower daily.
  • Rinse yourself thoroughly and make sure there are no residues of soap left in your navel.
  • Reduce your intake of processed foods if you are prone to Candida infections.
  • Stay away from public pools for a while after getting your belly button pierced.
  • Avoid junk food and have more raw fruits and veggies.

protip_icon Did You Know?
People with innies (belly buttons that dip inward) or those with piercings are at a higher risk of belly button infections.

If the infection shows no signs of healing, you must get medical help immediately to avoid serious side effects in the long run.

When To See A Doctor

If your symptoms do not stop at a bad odor, and you experience any of the following signs, please consult your doctor immediately:

  • Fever
  • Inflammation and pain near the belly button piercing
  • Pain while urinating
  • Worsening of the existing symptoms

Infographic: Causes And Medical Treatment Of Belly Button Infections

There are many reasons for belly button infections, such as bacterial and fungal infections or dirt. Therefore, the treatment for this condition depends on its root cause. Check out the infographic below to learn how to treat belly button infections.

causes and medical treatment of belly button infections (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Belly button infections can be bacterial, fungal, diabetic, or due to build-up of dirt and cysts. Poor hygiene, belly button piercings, wound, or surgery may increase the chances of getting an infection. Coconut oil, warm compress, essential oils, vinegar, and turmeric are a few common ingredients that can help you with inflammation and pain relief. Make sure to consult a doctor if the symptoms persist or worsen further.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a belly button infection lead to sepsis?

According to Dr. Chacon, “Sepsis occurs when germs enter the circulation (the circulating blood in a circulatory system).”

Why is my belly button red?

If your belly button or the inside of your belly button has turned red and itchy, it is a sign of a fungal infection. Candida is the most common culprit behind such fungal infections.

How long does it take to get rid of a belly button infection?

A belly button infection can take quite a while to heal completely. Although it heals within 6 months in most cases, it may take up to a year or two for complete healing in a few cases.

Why does your belly button smell?

Although mild navel odors are relatively normal, discharge and unpleasant odors from your belly button could be a result of an infection or the build-up of sweat and dirt.

How do you clean your belly button?

The best way to steer clear of belly button infections is to keep your navel clean and free of microbes. Here’s how you can do it:
• Take a little antibacterial soap or shower gel on a clean washcloth.
• Use your index finger to gently clean the insides of your belly button with the washcloth.
• Wash it thoroughly with water to remove any residues of soap and pat dry.

Is belly button infection serious?

No; while a belly button infection can be itchy, painful, and annoying, it cannot be serious. You can follow the home remedies listed above or visit a doctor to get your belly button cleaned.

What cream is good for an infected belly button?

This depends on the cause of your belly button infection. While infection caused by yeast can be treated by an antifungal cream, that caused by bacteria can be treated by an antibiotic ointment. You also must keep your navel dry and clean to prevent any recurrence of the infection.

Can you get a staph infection in your belly button?

Yes, your belly button contains certain strains of staph that can multiply and become infectious under optimal conditions.

Key Takeaways

  • Belly button infection might be caused by various factors such as bacterial or fungal infection.
  • Applying neem leaves and tea tree oil on the infected area may help fight bacteria and fungus.
  • Apple cider vinegar and yogurt may help combat belly button infections due to their antibacterial properties.
  • Keeping the area clean and dry is important to prevent belly button infections.
  • Avoid wearing tight, synthetic clothing that may trap moisture and create a warm environment for bacteria to grow.
Belly Button Infection: Causes And 10 Natural Treatments

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Concerned about an infected belly button? Discover effective treatment methods in this essential video. Learn how to cleanse, disinfect, and promote healing for a healthy and pain-free belly button. Check it out!

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

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Dr. Zeel Gandhi is an Ayurvedic doctor with 7 years of experience and an expert at providing holistic solutions for health problems encompassing Internal medicine, Panchakarma, Yoga, Ayurvedic Nutrition, and formulations. She graduated as a top ranker from Dr. D.Y.Patil College of Ayurveda and Research Centre , Navi Mumbai, and is a specialist in Panchakarma therapies. She believes that Ayurveda...read full bio

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