Belly Button Infection
Treating A Belly Button Infection
A belly button infection, medically a navel infection, is probably more common than most people think, simply because, depending somewhat on how it was formed, it can be a breeding ground for fungal and bacterial infections.
Infants are sometimes at a risk, as once they discover they have a belly button, there's a natural tendency to explore it, which usually means sticking a finger in it if it forms a depression (called an "innie"), or just poking or pulling at it if it is a protrusion (called an "outie"). The "innie" is the type more susceptible to infection since more stuff collects there.
My belly button, an innie, was a wonderful lint collector. I say was, because the daily shower tends to take care of the lint now, but when I was young it was the twice-weekly bath. Lint seemed to be there for the sole purpose of being picked out, and I was forever being reminded by my mother, or one of my aunts - "don't pick at your belly button or you'll have to go to the doctor". Of course no kid, or adult, really wants to have to see a doctor because of a navel problem. The first thing the doctor might ask is "have you been picking at it?"
Lint And Moisture - At some point in time I stopped picking lint and never suffered from a belly button infection, but others have, most often in the form of a fungal infection, as fungus loves warm, dark, and damp places. Lint, as it turns out usually isn't the culprit. Moisture is. Even an outie, the protruding belly button, can have dark folds which can trap moisture, though the innie practically invites moisture to accumulate. An accumulation of lint doesn't help matters however, as the lint can serve to trap and hold in moisture which otherwise might dissipate under normal circumstances. People who practice good hygiene, including taking a daily shower, can still get a belly button infection if they fail to dry the navel, although that is not terribly likely. Periodic washing and drying the belly button area is usually the best means of prevention, and is certainly preferable to picking out lint or going at your belly button with an ear swab (not recommended). It's not much different from failing to keep the area between your toes dry and ending up with a case of athlete's foot.
Fungus And Bacteria - While a fungal infection is more likely than a bacterial infection (you can actually have both simultaneously in some instances), a bacterial infection can set in if there is a small wound in the area, if the belly button has been scratched or otherwise irritated, or if it has been pierced and the piercing becomes infected. The latter is one of the more common causes of belly button infection in adults.
While our navel is not a vital organ, if it does become infected it can sometime make us feel unwell, as can any bad infection. An inflamed belly button often carries with the redness or soreness feelings of nausea.
A mild form of infection, especially if it is a fungal infection, can usually be treated at home. The navel can be washed with a saltwater solution, a vinegar solution (white vinegar is best), or treated with hydrogen peroxide. Just make certain to dry the area after treatment. In those cases where a bacterial infection is present together with a fungal infection, treating the fungal infection will usually take care of the bacteria as well.
Worst Case – See Your Doctor - In cases of a severe infection, especially if there is bleeding or the presence of pus it's always best to see a doctor (even if you have to swallow your pride and admit you've been picking at it or you've had it pierced). Your doctor will in any event probably be more forgiving than your mother or aunt might be. The usual treatment in this case will often be a prescribed antibiotic.
If you do treat an infected belly button yourself, avoid cremes or lotions that might tend to block the pores, as that could make matters worse. Use water based lotions or simply soap and water, and at the risk of being repetitious, dry the area well.