Home Navel Discharge Belly Button Discharge: Causes of a Clear, Smelly, White or Yellow Navel Discharge

Belly Button Discharge: Causes of a Clear, Smelly, White or Yellow Navel Discharge

by Dr. Joe Morales

A belly button discharge can be a smelly, white, clear, yellow or even green in both males and females. It is mostly a symptom that your navel is infected. Some women experience a smelly belly button drainage or leakage during pregnancy. What are the causes of this discharge?

Navel discharge is as a result of a moist environment created which is easily colonized by fungus. It is likely to present with a lot of pain when it occurs.Belly button discharge

When dirt, bacteria and other germs get stuck inside your belly button and start to multiply, they cause the discharge. This is brought by infection that is enhanced by the microorganisms. Usually, the smell is very intolerable.

Causes of belly button discharge

Why is my belly button wet and smelly? As alluded to earlier, the colonization of your belly button by microorganisms and dirt leads to infection and thereby discharge. The detailed outline below points out a detail of more causes of the unpleasant discharge.

1. Yeast infection

Candidiasis is the commonest type of yeast infection that is known for this discharge. It is brought about by the Candida albicans that grows in damp, dark areas of your body. It is likely to occur between skin folds like the groin area and under the arms. The belly button becomes a victim if it is not kept clean and dry. Candidiasis causes red, itchy rash around your navel and as a result a thick, white discharge.

2. Infected belly button piercing

This is currently a common practice in the beauty industry. The piercings are safe when they are done by professionals. They raise concerns when they are done in uncertain conditions and allocated poor aftercare. This leads to infestation by bacteria not long after the piercings. In the long run, it might take more than two years for the piercing to get healed completely.

After the piercing, it is a fact that you are at a high risk of contracting an infection. As a matter of fact yet again, any abrasion or injury done to a previous piercing might lead to an infection. An example is when the piercing gets caught on the pants and belt buckles.

Infected belly button piercing signs and symptoms

Redness around the navel can mean an infected pierced belly button.

Read more on symptoms of an infected belly button piercing.

3. Umbilical cyst (urachal cyst)

When you develop in your mother’s womb, there is a connection that links you to the womb. This is called the urachus. It forms a means through which you release urine from your system. In most cases, it closes up after birth. On rare occasions, it might fail to close up and this results into a defect called a urachal cyst.

A fluid filled sac or growth is likely to form in the urachus. This is called a urachus cyst. The cyst can get infected. Once infected, the following symptoms are likely to be apparent:

  • Cloudy or bloody fluid leaking from your navel
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • A lump in your abdomen
  • Pain when you urinate

4. Sebaceous cyst

This is bump that can form in your belly button as well as other parts of your body. It comes about as a result of oil releasing glands, sebaceous glands secreting excess oil. There is likely to be a blackhead pimple in the center of the cyst.

The moment the sebaceous cyst gets infected, a thick, yellow and foul smelling discharge will ooze from it. The cyst is also likely to be red and swollen. See the doctor when you notice fever, intense redness and tenderness in your abdomen.

5. Diabetes

If you have diabetes, then it is likely that you are at a higher risk of developing yeast infections. This is because, yeast feeds on sugar and high blood sugar is the basis of poorly treated diabetics. A study of Brazilian woman showed that women with diabetes were more prone to vaginal yeast infections than women who didn’t have diabetes.

There is another study that pointed out that other forms of infections that include yeast in the belly button may be more common among people with diabetes.

6. Surgery

If you have undergone an abdominal surgery like a hernia repair, you are likely to see some pus draining from your belly button. In the event that this happens, inform your doctor immediately. This is because it could be a sign of an infection that ought to be treated.

7. Bacteria

A bacterial infection can come with a fungal infection, although it is possible that it can occur independently. A typical bacterial infection is a kind of scabbing over and a discharge that is odorous and yellow in appearance. There are many different possible causes of bacterial infections that bring about the discharge. Poor hygiene happens to be one of them.

8. Patent urachus

This happens when there is a link or connection between the bladder and the umbilicus. This makes you to leak urine from umbilicus. This is because patent urachus causes varying amounts of urine to leak from the umbilicus.

Belly button discharge smelly yellow or white

Smelly yellow or white belly button discharge.

9. Urachal sinus

This is when your urachus fails to close your umbilicus thereby leaving a cavity from your umbilicus that ends in a part of your urachus that is called the sinus. There might be no symptoms or cause of abdominal pain and fluid discharge especially with an infection.

10. Diverticulum

This is the case when the urachus fails to seal close the bladder hence forming a track from your bladder that ends in your diverticulum. It can occur without symptoms or at times cause urinary tract infections. The urachus abnormalities are rarely seen in adults because they are noticed in early infancy.

11. Cysts in umbilical tract

When you go for a tummy tuck, you are likely to have intermittent or very serious chronic discharge, which is a possible cause that could mean cysts in your umbilical track. Intermittent and chronic drainage from the belly button area after a tummy tuck indicates that there is a cyst associated with the umbilical tract. This is according to Barry L. Eppley, MD, DMD and Indianapolis Plastic Surgeon.

A bloody navel discharge in baby

A bloody navel discharge in baby.

Skin that is trapped, hair growing or both could cause cyst and hence you get the discharge. When hair grows in the tucked skin, ingrown hair is the one that will bring about the discharge.

12. Omphalitis

This refers to an infection of the umbilical stump that commonly affects neonates. The bacterial infection is brought about by Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Streptococcus. They cause cellulitis or skin infection with redness, warmth, swelling and then pain. Other symptoms include pus from the umbilical stump, fever, fast heart rate (tachycardia), low blood pressure (hypotension), somnolence, poor feeding, and yellow skin (jaundice). This is according to Wikipedia.

Clear belly button discharge

When you have an incidence of a clear discharge, take it as normal healing of your navel after surgery, piercing or injury. To add on that, having patent urachus can result to this problem where the clear fluid oozing out is urine.

White discharge from belly button

The moment you get pus-like yellowish, white or darker colored belly button smelly discharge accompanied with itchiness, tenderness, pain and redness, blisters, the infection is most likely to be cause by yeast.

Yellow discharge from navel

When yeast, most commonly candida albicans overgrowth occurs around your navel, it may cause a swollen navel that will produce discharge that is yellow in color.

Apart from the yeast, there are other conditions that could lead to this and they include cancer, HIV/AIDS infection and the use of steroids, birth control pills, tight clothing and pregnancy.

Green discharge

When bacteria invades and thrive in your navel, it leads to pus-like greenish, brown or yellowish smelly discharge from your navel. Bacterial infections are also common after surgery or if you scratch your navel due to fungal infection as this creates open sores leading to not only bleeding but also bacteria entry.

Related symptoms

There are other symptoms that may come with the belly button discharge.

Scabbing belly button from discharge

Scabbing belly button from discharge.

1. Belly button pain and smelly discharge

Having a navel pain and discharge can be due to problems associated with abdominal surgeries, tummy tucks or having urachus abnormalities especially urachal cysts. A little pain can also due to the soreness caused by fungal or bacterial infection.

2. Redness around the belly button

Redness, bleeding (belly button bleeding and discharge) due to scratching does happen and this can give room for bacterial infection to set in.

3. Itchy belly button

This mainly sets in when you have pus like yellowish discharge that comes with itchiness, tenderness, pain and redness, blisters. The condition is mainly brought about by yeast.

Belly button discharge during pregnancy

This is a very prominent complain among most pregnant women. Whereas having asymptomatic urachus abnormalities may show symptoms during pregnancy or pregnancy may increase chances of one having a yeast infection, there is no other reason for navel discharge during pregnancy. Dr. Jeff Livingston, Obstetrics and Gynecology, clearly puts it that there is no direct connection between pregnancy and the problem.

Treatment and home remedies

The approach used to counter this condition is based on the type of cause that brings about the condition:

Warm Compress

This remedy helps to improve blood circulation. Apart from that, it also helps to drain the excess pus. To do this, always ensure the compress has been washed or disinfected to avoid introducing new bacteria to the infected area, which will likely exacerbate the infected area.

Saline Solution

This remedy for navel discharge can be useful when you mix around half a teaspoon of sea salt to a cup of warm water to make a saline solution. Thereafter, you can use the solution to clean the infected area. This will help to stop the progression of mild infections.

Acidic White Vinegar

The vinegar is very acidic. This is important because it will help to fight the infections and then also help to stop any progression or spread of the infection.  All you have to do is

  1. Mix white vinegar with warm water.
  2. Then use a cotton swab to apply the solution to the infected area.
  3. Rinse thoroughly after.

Essential Oils

The use of lavender oil, tea tree oil, or emu oil may help with a navel infection due to their natural healing properties. Other natural healers include vitamins C and D, and zinc, all of which will help to the rapidity of your healing process.


If the site of the piercing is excreting pus, then your physician will likely prescribe oral antibiotics to eradicate the microorganisms causing the infection. Topical antibiotic medications may also be prescribed for mild cases of infected belly button piercing. Besides, if you have pain associating with infections, over-the-counter pain relieving medications may prove helpful in eradicating that pain.

Surgical Drainage

If the formation of an abscess occurs, and the pus from the piercing is not draining efficiently, then surgical drainage may be the only solution left for you. This only comes in when the case is very severe.

Use alcohol to clean the infected piercing

If the infection seems to be mild, cleansing alcohol is often used to disinfect the microorganisms that may be causing the infection, halting the growth of the bacteria. This remedy should never be used if you have an allergy to alcohol.

Aloe Vera

This plant product has great anti-inflammatory properties. This becomes useful when the piercing on the belly button is inflamed from infection. To do it,

  1. Expel the aloe vera gel out from the leaf and apply it on the infected belly area.
  2. Just wait until the area is dry then wash with a wet cloth and dry your towel gently.
  3. You can apply this gel for several times each day to get the wanted results.

Try to avoid Allergens

After treating the infected area, you may notice the formation of a rash that may be due to the piercing or cleansers you use it daily. Just avoid such allergens and stop use these substances.


This product has great antiseptic properties. They help to treat and prevent any further infections. The procedure is as follows:

  1. Mix water with turmeric powder then apply it on the infected area.
  2. When the paste dries, you can wash the area and dry with a towel or tissue softly.
  3. Apply this method for about for 2 to 3 time per day.
  4. You can also make a drink by mixing 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder with honey or hot milk in a glass to help with the healing process.

Avoid the Use of Ointments

You are likely to deem the use over-the-counter ointments with antibiotic properties as the best way of approaching it. However, the opposite is likely true. Use of ointments may cause the bacteria to become trapped, exacerbating the issue and extending the time of healing.

The following things are also good to be tried out in this case:

  • Don’t use any over the counter creams or powders that are advertised as “antiseptic.” They will only add to the general irritation of the areas.
  • Ensure you stick to taking any medications your doctor prescribes to you and using any prescription ointments or creams.
  • Do not pick or scratch at the belly button, after you have cleaned and dried the area, cover it with cause if you need a reminder not to touch it.
  • Do not try to “turn it inside out.” Do not stress the skin but flush the cavity to clean it.

Antifungal medications especially cream and powders are often used in case one has yeast infection on navel. Furthermore, ensure you keep good navel hygiene and thoroughly dry it after taking a shower, avoid tight fitting clothes, reduce use of antibiotics, drink live yogurt and reduce alcohol and sugar consumption.

In all circumstances, you should seek medical attention to avoid worsening of condition and discharge. The doctor will also help you to rule out possibility of any other underlying medical conditions associated with the same symptoms.

References and Sources

  1. http://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/what-to-do-with-an-infected-belly-button-piercing#1
  2. http://www.healthline.com/health/belly-button-discharge#causes2
  3. http://www.embarrassingproblems.com/problem/belly-button-discharge
  4. http://www.healcure.org/navel/belly-button-discharge/belly-button-discharge-causes-yeast-smelly-white-brown-yellow-bloody-discharge/#Diabetes_ndash_Smelly_Cottage_Cheese_like_substances_from_navel

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1 comment

Rob Jan 24, 2019 - 12:09 pm

I had surgery approx 13 years ago for bowel cancer, after the scar started to heal I noticed and felt what appears to be remains of a stitch still there. I think it was suppose to have dissolved after surgery but is profiting through slightly. Causing pain and discharge. Advice please.