As a baby, the belly button is a hot topic for new moms. They spend a countless number of hours cleaning what’s left of their umbilical cord to make sure that your first scar doesn’t become your first infection.
But, as adults, we tend to forget about that part of our body. And in many cases, a quick graze over the navel with soap and water just isn’t enough. A 2012 research study, A Jungle in there, resulted in identifying 2,368 types phylotypes of bacteria living within 60 belly button samples. This included good and bad bacteria.
According to board-certified dermatologist Alexandria V. Booth, M.D. quoted in Women’s Health, health providers have been known to find a mix of lint, dirt, sweat, bacteria, soap, and lotion in the belly button. In some cases, people have made doctor appointments because they believe they have symptoms of cancer, only to learn that they have an infection.
Symptoms of a belly button infection include swelling, pain, itching, redness, odor, or discharge. People with particularly hairy navels, navel piercings, or “innies” should take extra precautions in their hygiene regimen.
While the more obvious way to clean out the belly button is to dig in with a washcloth during a shower, many dermatologists recommend also using an astringent, like witch hazel or alcohol, and a cotton swab. They suggest cleaning the belly button when you shower in addition to using an astringent at least once a week.