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What Causes Belly Button Discharge?

By Jessica F. Black
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are several causes for belly button discharge including urachal cysts, patent urachus, thrush, yeast infections, and other infections which may be due to piercing or another irritant in or around the belly button. Discharge from the belly button is usually white in color but can be darker or clear depending on the type of infection. These infections can be extremely malodorous and usually require medical attention. A physician will first have to examine the infected area before making a diagnosis and prescribing treatment. Most of these causes are easily treated and take very little time to heal.

Urachal cysts can be found in the umbilical area of the body and may be in a cluster that causes abdominal pain. There are additional symptoms that are associated with this disorder, including a high fever, painful urination, and lumps in the abdomen. If the cysts are not treated by a physician, they may begin to seep belly button discharge. This is a rare disorder and is usually discovered based on the other symptoms before seepage occurs.

Patent urachus generally occurs after a female has given birth and the tube between the bladder and the umbilical cord remains open, leading to several medical issues. In this case, the belly button discharge is urine seeping out and can be corrected by a minor surgery. A physician will usually close the the opening during surgery, and the healing time is relatively short. Once the problem has been corrected, the area will need to be kept clean to avoid further infection.

Yeast infections and thrush are very similar because both problems are caused by fungal overgrowth. During a yeast infection of the belly button, the area may become red, sore, itchy, and irritated. There are several treatments that can be tried at home, but most people opt to see a physician who will usually prescribe anti-fungal cream. Thrush causes candida yeast to form, and can be found on different parts of the body, including skin, throat, and belly button. This infection is also treated by an anti-fungal cream, but it may take more time to heal because it is a topical disorder.

People who notice a foul smell and belly button discharge should seek medical attention if home treatment does not work. Most of these conditions are not serious and can be treated with topical solutions. If pain or discomfort is associated with the discharge, the individual should immediately contact a medical professional.

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Discussion Comments

By umbra21 — On Aug 16, 2012

@bythewell - I think that adults can sometimes suffer from complications from a patent urachus that healed over when they were born, so maybe it happens more often than we think and just isn't that noticeable.

It's actually the fact that you can get thrush infections in your belly button that sounds awful to me. I know when I was a kid, I didn't really realize you had to clean the belly button very carefully and I sometimes damaged the skin there. That was sore and annoying enough, without having an actual infection in your belly button.

The only plus I can see is that it would probably be pretty localized and easy to contain. I would go straight to a doctor and apply whatever she gave me religiously until it was gone.

By bythewell — On Aug 16, 2012

@irontoenail - Yeah, but some people must be able to have them without any problems, or they wouldn't be so popular. Navel discharge isn't exactly a great advertisement.

What I find scary is what it said about possibly getting a patent urachus after you're born. It makes me wonder what happens to people in third world countries who end up with problems like that. I guess they either recover or they die. And from something like a malformed belly button. It makes you glad to have access to decent medicine.

By irontoenail — On Aug 15, 2012

Some people are just not meant to have a belly button ring. They get talked about as though it's something that everyone can do and some people seem to think that they are something that every person should do, but they are actually really high maintenance for a piercing and they are one of the piercings I don't recommend.

My best friend had one done and she got an infected belly button that wouldn't heal no matter what she did. It's just an area of the body that is constantly being covered with clothes and exposed to friction as well as being a cavity with no natural cleaning properties, like, say the mouth or even the nose.

I'd rather get my tongue done than my belly button.

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