HomeHealth6 Causes Of Belly Button Bleeding & Best Ways To Prevent It

6 Causes Of Belly Button Bleeding & Best Ways To Prevent It

This post was originally published in May 2019. Updated in July 2022.

Many different factors could be responsible for causing belly button bleeding. Infections, endometriosis, and portal hypertension are some of the causes that may cause bleeding from the navel.

Piercing, surgery, and poor hygiene can also lead to bleeding from the belly button. Each of these causes shows different signs and symptoms, which can help with diagnosis.

Navel bleeding is a serious health condition that needs medical attention. This condition can occur in all age groups, including children, newborns, and adults.

So, the factors that could lead to a bleeding belly button may include but are not limited to:

Why Is My Belly Button Bleeding?

1- Infections

The navel or belly button region is dark, moist, and warm which encourages bacteria and fungi to grow. Overgrowth of organisms can cause serious problems, such as a fungal or bacterial infection.

Also, poor hygiene and belly button piercing cause infections.

Out of all risk factors, belly button piercing is one of the most common factors that could cause infections.

Piercing causes an open wound that could make bacteria and germs enter the body through it and cause localized tissue infection, or in severe cases, systemic infection.

You will need to follow a good aftercare routine after getting your belly button pierced to avoid infections. You can use a piercing solution to help the wound heal faster and keep the area clean. 

Wearing tight clothes and synthetic fabrics that don’t absorb sweat can provide an ideal environment for bacterial and fungal overgrowth, and subsequent infections.

In addition to navel piercings, a surgical wound following abdominal surgery is at great risk of getting infected, precautionary measures are essential.

Also, touching the belly button with dirty hands can lead to the transmission of bacteria and fungal spores to the area and cause health issues. Check out this article for more info about belly button infections.

Symptoms:

Each infection has its different signs and symptoms. Yeast infection symptoms are different from the symptoms of bacterial infections. But there are some general symptoms and signs like:

  • Itching and redness.
  • Swelling around or on the belly button.
  • Pain and bleeding.
  • White, yellow, or green smelly discharge.
  • Vomiting and nausea.

How To Fix This:

You should see a doctor if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above. The doctor is going to examine you and determine the cause of navel bleeding, i-e., infectious or non-infectious. Based on the cause, your doctor will prescribe the right medications.

In addition to medications, you will need to make some lifestyle changes such as:

  • Keep the navel dry.
  • Wear loose clothing.
  • Clean the area well with warm water and mild soap.
  • Take a shower every day.
  • Don’t forget to remove any residues left in the navel.

Usually, mild bacterial infections can be treated with warm water and salt. To make salt water:

  • Mix one teaspoon of salt with a cup of water. Then soak a cotton pad in the solution and apply it to your belly button.

But if your infection is severe (there is discharge or bleeding, severe pain, fever, and large surface area involved), or your symptoms do not improve even after applying salt water, you should immediately seek medical help.

Causes Of Belly Button Bleeding & How To Avoid It

2- Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a medical condition that can rarely cause bloody discharge from the belly button.

In endometriosis, endometrial tissue (tissue lining the inside of the uterus) starts to grow in abnormal places such as the ovaries, abdominal cavity, and in rare cases, the navel.

When endometrial tissue grows in the navel, it’s called primary umbilical endometriosis. It’s an uncommon condition and affects only women.

Endometriosis can be highly painful as it affects reproductive potential and the quality of life. It affects 6-10% of all women of reproductive age.

Like normal endometrial tissue, these abnormal areas of endometrial tissue growth are also influenced by the hormones and hence go through cyclical bleeding like the uterus.

Symptoms:

  • Swelling and pain in and around the belly button.
  • Pain around the belly button, constantly or during menstruation only.
  • Skin coloration changes in the navel.
  • Lump, nodule, or mass in or around the belly button.
  • Bleeding, or reddish-brown discharge from the belly button.

How To Fix This:

If you suspect you may have endometriosis, you should consult a gynecologist. Transvaginal ultrasound, the clinical picture, and your signs and symptoms may also help narrow down differentials.

To confirm the diagnosis, a tissue sample and histopathological examination may be required.

Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and pain relievers to help with the symptoms. For definitive treatment, you may also need surgery to remove the lump/abnormal tissue.

3- Trauma

Trauma in or around the belly button area creates a wound and bruises.

Unfortunately, any signs of injury inside the body are invisible; trauma can also affect internal tissue and organs and cause internal bleeding.

In severe cases, internal organs like the bladder and the intestines may also get affected due to the penetrating trauma.

Belly button trauma may occur due to road traffic accidents, abdominal surgery, or following childbirth.

Additionally, athletes are more prone to abdominal trauma. It may occur when their body hits large objects. Abdominal trauma in athletes ranges from mild to severe, causing self-healing minor injury to organ failure and death.

That’s why it is important to wear protective equipment while playing sports and take recommended precautionary measures.

Symptoms:

  • Bleeding.
  • Abdominal pain and discomfort.
  • Bruising or discoloration in or around the belly button.

How To Fix This:

You should consult a doctor if you experience bleeding from the belly button. The doctor will perform an ultrasound and a CT scan.

He/she will also examine the belly button region to identify any areas of injury. The best treatment strategy will then be determined depending on the extent of the injury.

In mild cases, you may only require an antibiotic and a pain reliever while in severe cases, you may need surgical intervention.

4- Portal Hypertension

The portal vein carries the blood from the digestive organs like the stomach, gall bladder, pancreas, immunological organ, and spleen to the liver.

In some cases, blood vessels in the liver become blocked. And as a result, blood is not able to flow through the liver.

This blockage may happen due to health problems like liver damage or liver cancer

The blockage leads to an increase in the blood pressure in the portal vein. And this could cause swollen veins (varices), These varices can rupture and bleed easily.

So, when the blood pressure increases in the portal vein, it means you have portal hypertension. Usually, liver Cirrhosis is a common cause of portal hypertension.

Symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Abdominal swelling, due to accumulation of fluid.
  • Dark vomit: It could be because of bleeding in the digestive tract.
  • Vomiting of blood, due to rupture and bleeding from varices.
  • Dark/black/tarry stools; due to gastrointestinal bleeding and blood in the stools.

How To Fix This:

Physical examination, blood tests, and An ultrasound or a CT scan can help confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests may reveal a reduced platelet count, which is a common sign of portal hypertension.

5- Pregnancy

During pregnancy, skin and muscle stretch and this could cause some changes in the belly button area.

The uterus starts to enlarge as the fetus grows, leading sometimes to tears on the skin near the belly button, that can occasionally bleed.

Also, newborn babies experience minor belly button bleeding until the umbilical starts to heal. Get to know more about it here

Symptoms:

  • Tenderness.
  • Irritation.
  • Bleeding.
  • Redness.
  • Visible wound.

How To Fix This:

To avoid these symptoms, keep the belly button area clean and dry. You can also apply olive oil or aloe vera gel to soothe and moisturize the skin, and reduce irritation. It’s also recommended to remove belly button piercing if you have one.

A tear due to pregnancy is usually minor and self-healing. But if you experience significant discomfort, you should consult your OB/GYN.

6- Surgery

Surgeons in laparoscopic surgeries make a tiny incision around the belly button area. After the surgery, if proper care is not taken, the wound may reopen and cause bleeding.

This surgical wound is also susceptible to infections that increase the risk of bleeding.

Likewise, in a laparotomy (a midline incision is made on the belly), the surgical incision passes very near to the navel. In complicated cases, it can bleed, making the navel appear to be the source of bleeding.

Also, Even if the surgery is not close to the belly button area, it still could get affected.

If your surgical wound gets infected or starts bleeding, you need to consult your surgeon immediately.

Symptoms:

  • Pain and discomfort.
  • Bleeding from the belly button.
  • Inflammation and swelling.
  • Visible open wound.

How To Fix This:

If you just had surgery and noticed any post-surgical bleeding, call your surgeon immediately.

Prevention:

Causes Of Belly Button Bleeding & How To Avoid It
  • Keep the belly button area dry.
  • Wear loose clothing
  • Don’t wear tight-fitting clothing around your abdomen, especially if you have a wound
  • Touching the belly button with dirty hands could cause infections. So don’t touch this area unless it’s necessary.
  • Take a shower daily, unless recommended otherwise by your doctor.
  • Wash the area regularly with soap and warm water.
  • Remove any dirt or clothing residues left in the navel.
  • If you’re obese, make sure to maintain proper hygiene around the belly button area.
  • Drinking too much alcohol can cause liver damage which leads to portal hypertension. So, to avoid this health problem, reduce your alcohol intake.

When To See A Doctor

You should consult a doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding from the belly button.
  • Redness and swelling around the belly button.
  • Lump on or near the belly button.
  • Yellow, green, white, or brown discharge that has a foul odor.
  • Dark vomit: it could be an indication of bleeding inside the digestive tract. It’s a serious health condition that needs medical attention.
  • Dark/tarry stools: it indicates bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract due to portal hypertension or other serious causes.

After examination, your doctor may prescribe topical or oral medications to help you feel better. In other cases, you may require a surgical intervention.

Takeaway

Various factors can cause your belly button to bleed. Infections of the belly button are one of the most common factors that cause bleeding. Although this condition can affect anyone, some tips can help you avoid it.

If you experience unusual symptoms such as discharge, bleeding, or swelling in the navel area, that does not go away on their own despite maintaining good hygiene, Consult a doctor immediately.

Dr. Kiran Iqbal MBBS, B.ScThis article is written by Nada and medically reviewed by Dr. Kiran Iqbal, MBBS, B.Sc.

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