Causes and management of Navel discharge

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Navel discharges can be clear (or watery), smelly, white, brown, or yellowish in color can be due to a number of causes. A smelly discharge is not only embarrassing but also an indication of medical condition that might require prompt attention. While the problem is prevalent in children or kids, especially newborn babies, there are cases where drainage from belly button in adults occurs too.  

Fungal Infections: one of the most common causes of navel discharge is fungal infections. This is worsened by the fact that the belly button is a dark moist, warm place, the ideal breeding ground for fungi especially candida albicans. When there is overgrowth of yeast on the navel, it causes a swollen navel with some discharge i.e. pus-filled blisters, with yellow, white or dark discharges. Other common symptoms include itchiness, painful belly button, irritation, and tenderness. Redness, bleeding (belly button bleeding and discharge) due to scratching does happen and this can give room for bacterial infection to set in.


Use of antifungal medications especially cream and powders

Maintain good navel hygiene 

Dry the navel after bath 

Avoid tight fitting clothes

Reduce use of antibiotics

Reduce alcohol and sugar consumption

Bacterial infections: when bacteria invades and thrive in the navel, it leads to pus-like greenish, brown or yellowish smelly discharge from the 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.

Treatment: bacterial infections, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics – topical, oral, intramuscular and intravenous. In addition, proper hygiene – use antibacterial soaps to wash your navel, hand sanitizers, avoid touching your navel with dirty hands, etc. will be helpful.

Omphalitis bacterial infection: refers to an infection of the umbilical stump that commonly affects neonate (newborn babies). This bacterial infection is especially caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Streptococcus that causes cellulitis or skin infection with redness, warmth, swelling and pain.

Its symptoms include pus from the umbilical stump, fever, fast heart rate (tachycardia), low blood pressure (hypotension), somnolence, poor feeding, and yellow skin

Discharge from belly button after surgery: in surgical procedures like tummy tuck, tubal ligation, or surgery on any of the organs in the tummy end up with a discharge coming from belly button. This is not due to the procedure but infections that come due to the surgery.

Immediately after surgery and up to three weeks, it is normal to have some drainage especially clear odorless discharge from navel. However, if you have symptoms such as increasing pain, redness, swelling, chills or fever, see your surgeon immediately. This is caused by infected suture, cysts in umbilical track

Diabetes- diabetic patients may suffer from crusty discharge resembling a cottage cheese-like substance with a foul odor may come from the navel.  The diabetes need to be managed to deal with this cause.


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