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"Why does my belly button sometimes get moist and smelly?"
I'm a 35-year old woman. Over the past few months, I've had a problem with my belly button (I have an "innie") in that it gets moist and kind of smelly. I shower regularly and always dry out my belly button, and this isn't something that just happens after I've been sweaty. It's not itchy or red, and this issue seems to come and go without rhyme or reason. When I notice that it's getting funky, I sometimes swab it out with a little witch hazel with a drop of tea tree oil, which helps, but doesn't keep it from happening again. I am overweight, which makes my innie deeper than it was when I was younger and thinner, but I've never had a belly button infection or anything like that. It's mainly an annoyance, but I also worry that it's indicative of a problem I can't see. Is this a yeast problem or some other kind of bacteria or fungus? Is there an over-the-counter product or home remedy I can try? Do I need to see a doctor?
It is common for discharge and odor to develop in certain parts of the skin such as the belly button, which have a tendency to remain damp and dark, which are excellent conditions for bacteria and fungus to grow. The most likely possibility is that you have a minor fungal infection of the area (yeast or "thrush" as it is often known). The easiest way to treat this condition is to continue doing what you are already doing. It is especially important to keep the area clean and dry at all times, since it is the moisture that most encourages fungal growth. Some of the treatments that you have been using, such as tea tree oil and witch hazel also have antifungal properties. You may also try an over the counter antifungal cream if those are not working for you. You should not have to see a doctor for this condition unless it worsens. For example, if you have significant redness or pain of the skin in and around the belly button this could be a sign of a worsening skin infection. Also any fever or pus-like discharge should be evaluated as soon as possible by your primary care doctor.
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