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:
Table of Contents
Why Is My Belly Button Bleeding?
The navel region is dark, moist, and warm which encourages bacteria and fungi to grow. Overgrowth of organisms can cause serious problems, such as 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 the area 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, so precautionary measures are essential.
Also, touching the navel 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.
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.
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.
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 hormones and hence go through cyclical bleeding like the uterus.
- Swelling and pain in and around the belly button.
- Pain around the area, constantly or during menstruation only.
- Skin coloration changes in the navel.
- Lump, nodule, or mass in or around the area.
- Bleeding, or reddish-brown discharge from the belly button.
If you suspect you may have endometriosis, you should consult a gynecologist. Transvaginal ultrasound, the clinical picture, and your signs and symptoms 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.
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.
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. And eat well after playing sports to speed up muscle recovery and increase muscle mass.
- Abdominal pain and discomfort.
- Bruising or discoloration in or around the navel.
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 area 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.
- 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.
Portal hypertension can be diagnosed clinically by the presence of ascites (fluid in the abdomen), and swollen veins on the abdomen.
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.
During pregnancy, skin and muscle stretch and this could cause some changes in the umbilicus.
The uterus starts to enlarge as the fetus grows, leading sometimes to tears on the skin near the belly button, which can occasionally bleed.
Likewise, scratching an outward-facing navel can also cause injury and bleeding.
Also, newborn babies experience minor belly button bleeding until the umbilical starts to heal. Get to know more about it here
- Visible wound.
To avoid these symptoms, keep the 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 the 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.
Surgeons in laparoscopic surgeries make tiny incisions around the navel. 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.
- Pain and discomfort.
- Bleeding from the belly button.
- Inflammation and swelling.
- Visible open wound.
If you just had surgery and noticed any post-surgical bleeding, call your surgeon immediately.
- 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 area.
- Drinking too much alcohol can cause liver damage which leads to portal hypertension. So, to avoid this health problem, reduce your alcohol intake.
- Stay hydrated and eat healthy food like fruits, vegetables, and nuts, and avoid unhealthy eating habits.
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 area.
- Lump on or near the navel.
- 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: these indicate 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.
Is A Bleeding Belly Button Serious?
Having blood in or around the belly button is a serious condition that you must not ignore. You will need to consult a doctor right away if you notice bleeding in the area. You may also experience swelling, tenderness, foul-smelling discharge, or irritation.
How Do You Treat A Bleeding Belly Button?
1- Visit a doctor to get the area examined and prescribed the right medications.
2- Keep the area clean and dry.
3- Wear loose clothing around your abdomen to avoid irritation.
4- After getting a belly button piercing, follow a proper aftercare routine to prevent infections.
5- Clean the area and remove any residues there.
6- Don’t touch the area with dirty hands.
Why Is My Belly Button Leaking/ Oozing?
If your belly button is leaking or oozing discharge that is colored or clear, this could be a sign of a yeast, bacterial, or fungal infection. Also, blood in the area, itching, unpleasant odor, or pus is usually a serious sign that needs medical attention.
Can A Belly Button Infection Go Away On Its Own?
If you have a belly button infection, it’s best to visit your doctor as you may need antifungal or antibacterial medications to get rid of the infection. But if you keep the navel area dry and clean, yeast infections may get better with time on their own.
How Do You Know If Your Belly Button Is Infected?
There are some common symptoms that can indicate an infection. These symptoms include:
3- Itching in the area.
4- Blistering around the area.
5- Foul-smelling discharge.
6- Yellow or green discharge.
7- Pain and discomfort.
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. Maintaining good hygiene, eating healthy food, and wearing loose-fitting clothes can prevent bacterial infections or fungal infections, and tears in the navel area.
If you experience unusual symptoms such as discharge, bleeding, or swelling in the navel area, that do not go away on its own despite maintaining hygiene, contact your doctor immediately.
Excessive bleeding in the belly button area regardless of the cause requires immediate medical attention.
Based on the cause, you may be given medications or require additional interventions.
This article is written by Nada and medically reviewed by Dr. Kiran Iqbal, MBBS, B.Sc.