The belly button is a small, sensitive part of your body that is often overlooked, however, if it becomes infected, it can be very painful. Small, dark and damp, the belly button is a favorable breeding ground for bacteria and yeast, which develop through substances deposited in the naval cavity, such as sweat and soap. If left unclean, these elements grow into yeast or bacteria and can develop into an infection.
Belly button infections are a common problem and occur in people of all ages. Infections can begin from a variety of factors, such as belly button piercing, poor hygiene, diabetes and obesity, and can be one of two types, namely a bacterial or yeast infection.
Causes of belly button infections:
- Belly button piercing/surgery – insufficient cleaning
- Poor hygiene
- Sebaceous cysts
- Exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) sun rays/sunburn
Symptoms of belly button infections:
- Redness, swelling, itchiness
- Mild pain
- Green, yellow discharge
Home remedies to treat belly button infections
Whether your belly button infection has occurred from a new piercing or a cyst that has developed, there are a number of remedies that can be tried at home to relieve the pain and help fight the infection. Keep in mind though, that if the infection is still prevalent after a week of trying the home remedies, it is advisable to seek medical attention and see a doctor or medical health practitioner to avoid further complications. However, give these home remedies a try first!
- Warm Salt Water
Warm salt water is a cure for all! Salt is a natural disinfectant which absorbs any moisture in the area to aid the healing process while the warmth of the water helps to increase blood flow to and around the infected area. Add a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm or tepid water and mix it until the salt dissolves. Use a cotton wool ball or pad to apply the salt water mix to the infected area and then pat dry. This should be repeated 2-3 times a day for excellent results. You can also purchase a saline solution from the pharmacy, which is essentially salt water and does the same thing, however, is far more expensive.
- Keep Clean
It is vital to keep the infected area clean and dry to prevent further growth of bacteria or yeast and the best way to do this is by using an antibacterial soap when washing in the shower or bath. Make sure you dry the infected area thoroughly when finished washing and gently rub some antibacterial salve or cream onto the infected area until the infection is clear.
Expert tip! Use a water-based ointment, which will allow the skin to breathe and aid the healing process.
- Rubbing Alcohol
Another very effective way to keep your infection area clean is with rubbing alcohol. It has strong antiseptic properties that will sterilize the infected area and prevent the spread of infection, as well as provide relief from the irritation and pain. Place a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball, dab onto the affected area and leave to dry. Repeat this several times a day until the infection begins to cease.
- White Vinegar
If the infection is severe, there might be discharged from the wound and the best way to help alleviate this is with white vinegar. The acidic nature of the white vinegar helps to fight the infection and prevents the spreading of the bacteria or yeast to other areas. Mix 100ml part of white vinegar with 200ml of warm water, soak a cotton swab and apply gently to the affected area. Leave the swab on for about 10 to 15 minutes, rinse off and pat dry. Repeat 2-3 times a day until the infection begins to subside and clear.
- Relieve Pain with a Warm Compress
Infections generally tend to cause some pain or discomfort and this can be relieved by applying a warm compress to the area. The warmth from the compress seeps into the area, reducing the pain and increasing blood flow to the area, which aids in healing. Dip a clean cloth in warm water, wring out the excess water and place on the infection for a few minutes.
- Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an excellent natural remedy for a belly button infection, as it has antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic properties that help to fight the infection, whether it is bacterial or yeast. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a teaspoon of olive or coconut oil, and apply with a cotton wool ball. Leave on the infected area for Leave it on for 10 minutes, and then wipe off gently. Repeat this treatment 2 or 3 times daily until the belly button is healthy again.
- Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is another natural remedy that has long been used as a healing agent whose anti-inflammatory and soothing properties help fight infections and other illnesses. You can purchase aloe Vera gel from the store or cut open an aloe Vera leaf, extract the gel and apply this to the infected area.
- Indian lilac
Indian lilac, also known as neem, is famed for having excellent anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that assist in the prevention of the further spread of infection and reduce pain and itching. Crush a few neem flowers to make a paste and apply it onto the affected area. Leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing off with warm water. Pat dry thoroughly and repeat twice daily for several days.
Expert tip! Add a little turmeric powder to the neem paste, as it also has wonderful natural antiseptic properties that heal as well as prevent further spread.