If there is pus in or leaking from the belly button, it is because of bacterial infection. This can have different causes depending on age and be associated with different symptoms. In any case, the cause should be investigated and appropriate treatment should be given.

If pus appears on the navel for the first time, a doctor should be consulted who can recommend therapy. As a rule, the inflammation can be cured quickly with appropriate measures so that no more pus forms.


Bacterial inflammation can be triggered by various factors and circumstances. In newborns, for example, the remnants of the umbilical cord sometimes become inflamed and pus forms. Children with a weaker immune system, such as babies born prematurely, are particularly at risk.

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Read more on the topic: Inflammation of the belly button in the child

In teenagers and young adults, a navel piercing is a possible cause of bacterial inflammation in the navel. As a result of the skin damage caused by piercing, natural skin germs that colonize the navel in large numbers can penetrate the tissue and cause a purulent inflammation.

Another cause of pus in the navel can be a previous laparoscopy (“laparoscopy”). Surgical removal of the gallbladder or appendix usually involves making small incisions in the abdominal wall at the navel. If bacteria penetrate there, inflammation with egg formation is usually the result.

Laparoscopy or appendix surgery

After a laparoscopic (“minimally invasive”) operation, such as an appendectomy, a complication can in rare cases lead to the development of pus in the navel. During these operations, a small incision is made in the belly button. A thin tube (trocar) is then pushed through this into the abdominal cavity, where the actual operation can then be carried out.

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After the operation, the sewn up small incision in the navel has to heal again. If bacteria now penetrate the wound, it can lead to inflammation with pus formation. Usually, however, this can be prevented by taking the usual hygiene measures.

If, however, pus does come out of the navel after an appendix operation or another laparoscopic procedure, the doctor responsible should be made aware of this as soon as possible. Measures such as careful wound cleaning and, if necessary, an additional antibiotic, the inflamed wound can usually heal without consequences.

Navel piercing

When a navel piercing is stung, there is always a risk of bacteria invading the skin and causing inflammation. As a result, pus can form in the navel and flow out of it. Thorough disinfection before the piercing is done and during the healing phase can reduce the risk of bacterial inflammation, but it can never be completely eliminated.

Even after a long time in which a navel piercing has been tolerated without problems, it can still ignite, as it is a foreign body and a lot of bacteria naturally live in the navel. If pus appears in or out of the navel in a person with a navel piercing, the piercing must be professionally removed as soon as possible so that the inflammation can heal.

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Read more on the topic: Belly button piercing is infected - what to do?

Concomitant symptoms

Since pus in or out of the belly button is due to inflammation caused by bacteria, the typical accompanying symptoms of an inflammatory reaction can occur. In addition to reddening, pain and overheating of the belly button, swelling can occur.

Itching on and around the navel is also possible. Concomitant symptoms that affect the whole body, such as headache and fatigue, are rather rare, but still possible. In such a case, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible, as these may be the first signs that the inflammation has spread to the blood, which in the worst case can be life-threatening.

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Belly button stinks

If there is pus in or out of the belly button, it is usually associated with a foul odor.
The pus is composed, among other things, of killed bacteria and cells of the immune system. The decomposition process creates bad smells, so that the navel stinks. If the inflammation is treated successfully through thorough hygiene measures, among other things, pus no longer forms and the bad smell also disappears again.

Read more on the topic: Belly button stinks - what's behind it?


As a result of the inflammation of the navel, tissue hormones are released in addition to pus, which convey the feeling of pain. This is then often perceived as a throbbing, dull pain and is usually limited to the navel and the immediate vicinity.

When the inflammation is treated, both the pus and pain will go away. A doctor should be consulted for pain that occurs throughout the abdomen.

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Read more on the topic: Pain in the navel


The treatment of pus in and out of the navel is initially based on the cause of the inflammation responsible for the pus formation. Careful hygiene measures are particularly important in order to reduce the number of germs in the affected area. The navel should be carefully washed regularly with lukewarm water and, as soon as the skin is dry again, sprayed with a disinfectant.

A possible trigger of the inflammation, such as a navel piercing, must also be removed. In some cases, additional treatment with an antibiotic is indicated, which usually has to be taken in tablet form for a few days.

In some cases, however, the doctor will rather prescribe an ointment containing antibiotics, which should be applied several times a day in and on the belly button. In compliance with the therapeutic measures mentioned, the inflammation usually heals within a few days, so that no more pus develops in the navel or emerges from it.

Read more on the topic: Inflammation of the navel - causes, symptoms, therapy


In order to make a diagnosis of pus in or from the belly button, a physical examination and a medical consultation are usually sufficient. The appearance of pus suggests that there is inflammation caused by bacteria. To make a diagnosis, the doctor must also identify the most likely cause of the bacterial inflammation.

This is usually possible on the basis of the accompanying circumstances of the patient such as age and secondary diseases, as well as the observation and examination of the navel.


How long the bacterial inflammation with pus formation lasts depends on the one hand on the cause and on the other hand on how quickly and consistently appropriate treatment is given. In otherwise healthy people, the inflammation will also heal faster than in people with a compromised immune system, such as the elderly or diabetics ("people with diabetes").

In most cases, the inflammation will improve after a few days and there will be no more pus. In rare cases, however, a protracted inflammation and thus pus formation on the navel over several weeks can occur. If there is no improvement despite treatment, the doctor should be consulted as soon as possible.

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