Umbilical blisters are blisters that occur on or around the umbilicus, commonly known as the navel or belly button. In newborns, they can also occur in the area of the umbilical cord stump. Blisters at the umbilical site may be a sign of irritation, infection, or disease, depending on the symptoms and the age of the sufferer. Both children and adults can suffer umbilical blisters for a number of reasons.
In newborn infants, blisters filled with either blood or pus can be an indication of infection in the umbilical stump or the navel itself. Generally, these infections require medical attention within 24 hours, especially if other problems with the umbilical stump — such as early or late separation, excessive bleeding, and pus leakage — are present. Cleansing with rubbing alcohol may help alleviate the blisters until the infant can receive proper medical care.
In older children and adults, these blisters can be a sign of various skin conditions and may be part of a skin reaction that covers a larger area. Conditions such as eczema, contact-based allergic reactions, and yeast infections can cause blisters on the belly button, often accompanied by a rash. Something as simple as friction against the belly button from rubbing fabric can also create fluid-filled blisters. Treatment for these may vary depending on the cause, and should be verified by a medical professional.
Pregnant women may suffer from blisters at the umbilical site if they are infected with herpes gestationis, also known as gestational pemphigoid. This rare disease, while not actually a form of herpes, causes umbilical blisters along with lesions on the arms, legs, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. At times blisters can affect other areas of the body as well. The condition typically appears in the fourth and fifth month of pregnancy or after birth, and can be treated with orally-administered corticosteroids. The disease can also be passed to the infant. Affected infants usually recover a few weeks after birth.
Navel piercings can also cause umbilical blisters. The pierced skin may swell, bleed, and form blisters filled with blood, pus, or fluid if the piercing irritates the skin with friction, or if the piercing site becomes infected. Most guides on piercing care advise leaving the piercing in until the infection has drained, and treating the site with peroxide and topical antibiotics. Should the flesh become necrotic or the infection persist for more than a few days, it may be necessary to remove the piercing and consult a medical professional to prevent long-term or even fatal effects.