Itchy Belly Button: Causes and Home Treatments that Really Work

Itchy Belly Button: Causes and Home Treatments that Really Work
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Having an itchy belly button can be an embarrassing problem that can cause discomfort in your daily activities. Belly buttons often start to itch because they can become easily infected. An infection in or around your navel can cause patches of red itchy skin that may ooze discharge and crust over as it heals.

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Scratching an itchy belly button to relieve the discomfort may only make the itch even more severe. The insistent itch that results from vigorous belly button scratching may also cause a secondary infection which will be harder to treat.

Treating an itchy belly button with home remedies involves using natural ingredients to quickly calm the itchy skin. For example, witch hazel, aloe vera, or even a simple cold compress can give you fast relief from itching around your navel.

However, it’s also important to treat any skin condition that is causing the tickly sensation in your belly button. So, if a yeast infection or bacterial infection is causing the itching, remedies like tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda are excellent for killing off any germs and calming the irritating itch at the same time.

In this article, you will find what conditions can cause you to feel an uncontrollable urge to scratch your belly button. You will also learn the best ways to treat itching around your midriff to get welcome relief from the discomfort.

Symptoms of Itchy Belly Button

Very often conditions that cause your navel to itch will also cause other related symptoms. For example, skin irritation can lead to redness and even swelling around your belly button. The itchy red patch may also feel warm and become cracked, or you could notice that whitish scales form over the itchy skin.

Sometimes, fungal infections can cause pimple-like bumps that feel scratchy and may show signs of discharge or fluid oozing from the damaged layer of skin.

Whatever the cause of your itchy belly button and symptoms, there are many natural treatments to give you needed relief.

Quick Relief from Belly Button Itching

There are many natural remedies for generally calming itching around your belly button. These simple home remedies will give you quick relief from an irrepressible itch to alleviate your irritating symptoms. They can also be used in conjunction with other home remedies for controlling itching.

Cold compress

One of the first things you can do is to apply a cold compress to your itchy midriff. Cold helps to numb the nerve endings making your belly button less irritable and itchy.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend a cold, wet compress for itchy skin.1 This is what you should do to instantly relieve the prickly sensation at your navel:

  1. Place some ice cubes in a plastic bag and wrap it in a thin towel.
  2. Hold the cold compress on your belly button for about 10 minutes at a time to relieve the itch.
  3. Repeat 2 or 3 times a day until the itchiness around your abdomen has gone away.
  4. Dry your belly and especially inside your navel to prevent moisture causing more itchiness.

Cool tea bag

Another great way to quickly relieve itchy belly button is to apply a cool tea bag to the affected skin area. Cool tea bags have the advantage that they help to relieve the itch in 2 ways. First, a cool tea bag acts as a cold compress. Second, a study into tea found that it contains natural tannins that have an astringent effect on the skin to relieve itching.2

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To use a cooled tea bag for a belly button itch, this is what you should do:

  1. Dip a black tea bag in a cup of boiling water to help release the tannins.
  2. Place the tea bag in the refrigerator until it cools.
  3. Hold on your itchy belly button to relieve the discomfort.
  4. Apply anytime you need instant relief from the urge to scratch your belly.

Alternatively, you can also use a chamomile tea bag for soothing relief.

Witch hazel

Witch hazel is another natural astringent that can provide speedy relief from itching around your umbilical area. Doctors from WebMD say that properties in witch hazel are useful to reduce itching and swelling and also have an antiseptic effect.3

The easiest way to use witch hazel to soothe itching and redness around your belly button is to apply some with a cotton pad directly to the affected skin area. Use the remedy 2-3 times a day to help treat an itchy belly button or whenever you need instant itch relief.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a great natural remedy for various skin conditions including relieving itchy belly button. Due to its antibacterial properties, aloe vera was found to also help wounds to heal faster, inhibits the growth of bacterial infections and helps the skin to repair itself quicker.

All you need to do is to apply a small amount of pure aloe vera gel to the navel area to reduce itching. Repeat the remedy 2-3 times a day to get a faster soothing relief around your itchy umbilical area.

Causes and Treatments for an Itchy Belly Button

Let’s look now at the most common reasons for itchiness around your umbilical region and how to treat the cause of the belly button itch.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is one of the most common reasons for an itchy rash near your belly button. Contact dermatitis on your stomach can occur when your skin comes into contact with an allergen that causes a skin reaction.

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, common culprits that cause allergic skin reactions are soaps, fragrances, antibiotic creams, and jewelry. Some sunscreens also cause a photoallergic reaction when you’re in the sun. This can cause severe itching, a red rash that possibly blisters, and cracked scaly skin.4

Nickel is another common cause of contact dermatitis that can cause belly button itching. For example, many pieces of belly button piercing jewelry and belt buckles are made from nickel. Dr. Debra Jaliman on WebMD says that allergic reactions to nickel will start off with itching where the skin is in contact with the metal object. If the contact is prolonged, dry patches of skin will develop into a rash that may break out in blisters.5

How to treat naturally:

The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of virgin coconut oil make it a great home remedy for treating itchy skin affected by dermatitis.

For example, the journal Dermatitis reported that coconut oil was an effective natural moisturizer to nourish skin damaged by dermatitis. Its antimicrobial properties also helped to prevent skin infections developing.6

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To help soothe itchy skin around your belly button, just apply a little virgin coconut oil to the affected skin area 2-3 times a day. You should continue applying the coconut oil remedy until the itchy red patch of skin disappears.

It’s also important to remove the source of the allergic reaction. This is one of the most important ways to prevent an allergic itch in your tummy button from returning. Dr. Debra Jaliman recommends using belly button jewelry that is either at least 14-carat gold or is made from surgical stainless steel or platinum.7

Umbilical dermatitis

Poor hygiene and people who have a deep “innie” belly button can suffer from umbilical dermatitis which will cause an itchy sensation in your navel.

According to a report published in the American Journal of Case Reports, various factors can cause dermatitis in the navel. For example, body hair, not having good hygiene, and deep navels were found to put a person at risk of developing itchy dermatitis. Some of the symptoms of umbilical dermatitis are itching, discharge, pain, a bad smell, and even bleeding from the navel.8

How to treat naturally:

To treat itching caused by umbilical dermatitis, you can follow the same treatment for dermatitis. If you have signs of an infection in your navel, then you can add some tea tree oil to the coconut oil. Please read on to find out how to use tea tree oil to treat belly button infections naturally.

Fungal and yeast infections

The dark, moist conditions of the belly button create an environment where fungal and yeast infections can flourish. Itchiness is one of the main signs of a yeast infection and if the fungi multiply in your belly button, you will experience an itching or burning feeling there.

Assistant Professor of Surgery, Dr. Denise Aaron says that a common yeast infection is candidiasis. Strains of candida are naturally found on the skin but they can quickly cause infections in skinfolds of the stomach and other moist areas of the skin. Also, hot weather, tight clothing, and poor hygiene can aggravate the yeast infection of the belly button even more.9

How to treat naturally:

To naturally treat a yeast or fungal infection in your belly button, you can use a combination of tea tree oil and coconut oil.

Studies have shown that both coconut oil and tea tree oil are effective antifungal treatments for the signs of yeast infections. For example, a study in 2007 found coconut oil to be an effective treatment for fungal infections.10 Also, the journal Skin Pharmacology reported that tea tree oil has powerful antifungal activity and can treat various fungal infections, including strains of Candida.11

To make your own antifungal treatment at home to remedy an itchy tummy button, this is what you should do:

  1. Take a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil, add 3 drops of tea tree oil and mix well.
  2. Gently massage the tea tree oil remedy to the skin around and inside your belly button to kill off the infection.
  3. Use the natural antifungal 2 times a day until all signs of the yeast infection have gone for good and you don’t have an itchy belly button.

Bacterial infection

A bacterial infection can cause an itchy rash in your belly button that may also have some discharge. The same warm and moist conditions in closed areas that are the cause of fungal infections can also cause bacterial infections on the skin.

According to the journal American Family Physician, a common type of skin rash what causes itchiness is intertrigo. Doctors say that this itchy skin condition also affects the umbilical area and is common in folds of the skin that are warm and damp. The symptoms of intertrigo in the belly button caused by a bacterial infection are oozing and then crusting around the affected skin area, a musty smell, and intense itching.12

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How to treat naturally:

As with any kind of infection, it’s important to kill off the germs that are causing the infection. You can use the antiseptic properties of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to help clear up quickly an infection of the belly button.

The germ-killing properties of apple cider vinegar are due its acetic acid content. The journal Burns found that acetic acid can be used as an antiseptic because it has an antimicrobial effect. In fact, even in a low concentration, it effectively kills off bacteria.13 The low pH levels of apple cider vinegar also help to reduce itching.

To use apple cider vinegar to treat an infected belly button that itches and has discharge, this is what you should do:

  1. Dilute raw apple cider vinegar with equal parts of water.
  2. Soak a cotton pad in the natural solution and apply to the infected area around your belly button to kill off bacteria and germs.
  3. Use the home remedy 3 times a day to help get rid of itching, discharge, redness and other signs of an infection.

It is good to note that apple cider vinegar can be used to treat candida in your belly button as well.

Infected belly button piercing

A common complication of piercing your belly button is an itchy infection around the piercing hole. Beauty salons and piercers usually provide information on how to prevent a belly button infections after piercing. However, because of touching the navel area with unclean hands or germs getting into the wound in other ways, infections can still occur.

How to treat naturally:

According to doctors from the National Health Service, the best way to prevent and treat a mild infection around a belly button piercing is using a saline solution.14

If you have had your belly button pierced and it is itchy, you should apply cleansing saline solution this way:

  1. Mix 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in a small glass of warm water (make sure and boil the water first).
  2. Using a clean cotton ball dipped in the salt solution, gently cleanse the itchy area around the piercing wound.
  3. Hold the saline solution on the wound for 10 minutes to kill off germs and stop itching.
  4. Gently pat your belly button dry with a clean paper towel.
  5. Repeat 2 times a day to prevent the infection progressing and keep the belly button germ-free.

Belly button psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition that can cause the inside of your belly button to itch intensely. Psoriasis causes patches of skin to become thickened and scaly and itching is often associated with the condition.

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According to Dr. Amy Stanway on DermNetNZ, flexural psoriasis commonly affects the navel. This causes redness around the belly button that can create a strong urge to itch your tummy. Unlike other symptoms of psoriasis, psoriasis of the belly button doesn’t show up as a red scaly rash but it is associated with cracked skin and redness that will itch.15

How to treat it naturally:

There are various ways to treat psoriasis naturally and help reduce the severity of its symptoms. One of these is baking soda. Doctors from WebMD say that baking soda can help to calm redness and soothe itching from damaged skin.16

You can easily make your own anti-itch baking soda paste to help take the itch out of an irritated belly button. Just mix enough water with a tablespoon of baking soda to form a thick paste. Apply to your itchy navel for 10 minutes twice a day to relieve the itching and get rid of redness.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy can also cause your belly button to itch as your tummy stretches. It is common during pregnancy for your skin to itch. This is due to hormonal and physical changes that are happening.

According to doctors from the National Health Service, itching around your abdomen area often occurs. Mild itching isn’t harmful to your baby, however, itching in your body that usually happens at night may be a symptom of a liver disorder called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. You should speak to your doctor about these itchy symptoms.17

How to treat naturally:

If you have mild itching all over your body, and not just in your belly button when pregnant, you can add a cup or two of ground oatmeal to your bath. The Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found that ground oatmeal has cleansing and anti-inflammatory properties. Applying oatmeal solutions to the skin can help to relieve itching and irritation.18

You can bathe in oatmeal to reduce itching, no matter what the cause of your belly button itching is. All you need to do is add 2 cups of ground oatmeal to your bath water and soak for 20 minutes. You can also make a paste of oatmeal and water and press it to your itchy belly button to stop the itching naturally and quickly.

Bed bugs

The itching in your belly button and around your abdominal area could be caused by bed bug bites. Bed bugs feed on blood and their bite can leave you with itchy bumps. There could also be the possibility that bed bugs could leave behind feces or eggs in your belly button that could cause an itchy allergic reaction.

You can use tea tree oil as a spot treatment to relieve itching if you notice one or two bite marks around your belly button. For more information on how to get rid of bed bugs for good and also treat bed bug bites with home remedies, please read my ultimate guide on the best bed bug treatments.

How to Prevent Itchy Belly Button

If you frequently suffer from itching around your belly button or you have mild to severe itching inside your navel, then you can take some steps to prevent irritation in your midriff. Here are some ways to prevent an itchy belly button:

  • Moisturize your belly button with a good natural moisturizer such as coconut oil, vitamin E oil, or cocoa butter to prevent dry skin.
  • Maintain proper hygiene to keep your belly button free from dirt and germs. However, don’t use harsh soaps as they may cause dermatitis in your belly button.
  • Keep your belly button dry.
  • Don’t scratch a belly button itch because scratching will usually make the itch even worse.

Itchy Belly Button – When to See a Doctor

Itchiness around your belly button is usually harmless and won’t lead to serious consequences. However, there is always the risk that a bacterial infection could get worse and require medical treatment.

Dr. Sandra Gonzalez Gompf on eMedicineHealth says that skin infections can become very serious if not treated properly.18 You should see your doctor if itching in your belly button is accompanied by any of the following conditions:

  • You notice that redness around your belly button spreads and there are red streaks.
  • There is increased warmth in the affected area.
  • You have drainage from the belly button.
  • Along with signs of a skin infection, you have nausea and vomiting.

Read these related articles:

Article Sources

  1. MayoClinic. Itchy skin (pruritus).
  2. Phytojournal. Tannins are astringent.
  3. WebMD. Witch hazel.
  4. MayoClinic. Contact dermatitis.
  5. WebMD. Are you allergic to nickel?
  6. 2008 Nov-Dec;19(6):308-15.
  7. WebMD. 7 ways to avoid nickel.
  8. Am J Case Rep. 2017; 18: 267–270.
  9. MSDManuals. Candidiasis (yeast infection).
  10. J Med Food.2007 Jun;10(2):384-7.
  11. Skin Pharmacol.1996;9(6):388-94.
  12. Am Fam Physician.2005 Sep 1;72(5):833-8.
  13. 2009 Aug;35(5):695-700.
  14. NHS. Body piercing.
  15. DermNetNZ. Flexural psoriasis.
  16. WebMD. Baking soda: What can it do for you?
  17. NHS. Itching and intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy.
  18. J Drugs Dermatol.2007 Feb;6(2):167-70.
  19. eMedicineHealth. Cellulitis.
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