Like any body part, the belly button can get inflamed. Itchiness, redness, and swelling are the typical symptoms of a belly button infection.
It can be caused by a variety of things: a belly button piercing, bacterial infections, and more.
Remember that there are over 2,000 species of bacteria living on the surface of our skin right now.
Many of these bacteria are “friendly”, existing in a mutual relationship with our bodies. Others, however, are opportunity seekers.
They wait for a cut or scrape to get inside the body. The belly button is particularly vulnerable, and so infections can happen here frequently.
Piercings – A Common Cause of Belly Button Infections
By far the most common cause of a belly button infection is piercings. Depending on where you get it done, the needle may be contaminated.
Also, many people forget to follow practice good hygiene after the piercing is already in.
For the first few days following a belly button piercing, you must clean the pierced area thoroughly.
A lot of people forget to do this, which can cause an infection. The piercing, which creates an open wound, allows all types of bacteria to make their way inside the body.
The Risks of Getting a Belly Button Piercing
Most infections of the belly button are minor (a.k.a. non-life-threatening). But there are instances in which they can be lethal.
For example, piercings can result in HIV, tetanus, or hepatitis. These are serious infections that can kill you.
If the piercer wears gloves and uses sterile equipment, then the chances of an infection are lower. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid Piercing “Guns”: If the studio is using a piercing “gun”, then find a different location. Piercing guns are notorious for not being thoroughly sanitized during use.
- Avoid Large Jewelry: If the jewelry is too large, it can cut off blood supply to your belly button, potentially causing an infection.
- Think About Allergies: If you’re allergic to a specific metal, make sure that your jewelry isn’t composed of that metal.
Now let’s look at some other causes of a belly button infection. Then we’ll talk about some treatment options.
Other Causes of Infection
A belly button infection can form due to other reasons including:
- Poor Hygiene: Microorganisms like bacteria and fungi thrive in dark, warm, and moist areas. Hence, the belly button is the perfect place to survive. If you don’t regularly wash here, you’re more likely to develop an infection.
- Frequent Touching: Are you someone who constantly plays with your belly button? If so, know that this is a huge risk factor for getting an infection. The more you touch your belly button, the more bacteria you bring to the area.
- Recent Surgery: If you’ve had a recent surgery in the abdominal area, it could make you more prone to an infection. People with weakened immune systems are especially susceptible to post-surgery infections.
- Obesity: People who are obese are more likely to develop infections. Why? Because it’s harder for these individuals to thoroughly clean all the crevices of their body. If you’re obese, do your best to lose some weight.
What do all these risk factors have in common? They make it easy for microorganisms to survive. Also, they’re all, for the most part, within your control.
If you suffer from frequent belly button infections, then practicing better hygiene can make all the difference.
Wear the Right Clothing
Believe it or not, there are certain clothes that can make you more likely to develop an infection. Firstly, avoid synthetic fibers.
Synthetic fibers don’t do a good job at absorbing moisture. Remember that bacteria and fungi thrive in moist areas. For this reason, it’s better to go with cotton (it absorbs moisture better).
Also, avoid tight-fitting clothing. Tight-fitting clothing can rub against your belly button throughout the day, causing you to scratch there.
By scratching, you can break open the skin and let microorganisms inside. Wearing the right clothing can help you prevent a belly button infection, as well as heal an existing one more quickly.
How to Treat a Belly Button Infection
Most belly button infections will go away on their own within seven days. In more serious cases, they can last up to six months!
Here are some ways to speed up the healing process:
- Rubbing Alcohol: To kill bacteria and promote healing, apply rubbing alcohol to your belly button throughout the day.
- Salt Water: Lukewarm salt water applied daily can “dry up” the infection by killing bacteria. Apply twice per day.
- Indian Lilac: The compounds within Indian lilac can reduce pain and swelling associated with infections. It also helps with itching.
- Topical Ointment: Depending on the cause, an antibiotic ointment can be used to speed up healing. Use as directed.
Note, it can take time for your body to fight off the infection. In the meantime, stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. Putting unnecessary strain on your body will make the healing process happen more slowly.
A simple change in your diet can go a long way towards preventing a belly button infection. Studies show that processed foods can lead to chronic inflammation.
Also, if you drink too much alcohol, you’ll weaken your immune system. Start eating more raw fruits and vegetables.
They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can make your body stronger. It’s difficult for bacteria and fungi to thrive in a healthy body.
Finally, get more exercise. By jogging daily, you increase lymph circulation. Poor lymph circulation is associated with sickness and disease.