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7 Reasons Your Belly Button Might Be Bleeding

Trained in dentistry, Sree is currently pursuing lab sciences. She loves researching and sharing information on various health topics.

If your body does something unexpected, it's often a sign that something's wrong. Belly button discharge is a highly unusual condition. Therefore, it's instructive to examine this situation more closely.

If your body does something unexpected, it's often a sign that something's wrong. Belly button discharge is a highly unusual condition. Therefore, it's instructive to examine this situation more closely.

What Is the Belly Button?

The medical term for the belly button is the umbilicus. All humans have a belly button as a result of having their umbilical cords cut shortly after being born. Technically, the belly button is a scar.

Because it is a scar, it serves no real purpose after birth. Its location and structure make it an ideal place for surgeons to begin their incisions. Beginning incisions here minimizes surgery-related scarring, as incisions from any other part of the abdomen will leave very visible traces.

Belly buttons are rarely an object of concern for most people. Many people do not clean their belly buttons, which can lead to a build-up of gunk, lint, dirt, and bacteria. In extreme cases, a dermatologist's intervention may be required. Regular washing of your belly button is recommended to eliminate the bacteria that grow there due to sweat.

Any blood or discharge from the belly button will have a strong odor, which can be embarrassing. More importantly, it is a red flag that there may be a more serious underlying condition requiring immediate medical attention.

Causes of Bleeding From the Belly Button

There are many possible causes of bleeding from the belly button. All of them are somewhat severe and can lead to more problems if left untreated. The possible causes are listed below and are arranged in order of decreasing likelihood.

1. Infection

An infection is a condition in which a disease-causing microorganism has been introduced to your body. In terms of the belly button, the location and the fact that it is moist and protected are favorable conditions for microbial growth.

There are two relevant types of infections. The first, a fungal infection, is caused by any fungus that has grown in the area. The most common type of fungal infection in the belly button is a yeast infection. People of any age or gender can be susceptible to infection. Transfer of fungi from other infected areas, such as feet affected by athlete's foot, can allow fungi to grow in the belly button. It is characterized by severe itching and redness. It will also generate foul odors as the affected skin secretes liquid. If the infection is external, the doctor will prescribe an anti-fungal cream to kill off the fungi.

The second type of infection is a bacterial infection. Since the belly button is usually dirty and houses many types of bacteria, any wound in that area may lead to a bacterial infection. Symptoms of bacterial infections include the typical fever, which is your body's way of trying to kill off the invading bacteria. Due to the proximity of your belly button to some important internal organs, bacterial infections are severe. A doctor will most likely prescribe a potent antibiotic to cure the bacterial infection if there are no further complications.

It must be noted, however, that some infections are asymptomatic, or show no symptoms. If this is the case, there is little to worry about unless certain symptoms begin to manifest themselves.

Everything you need to know when your belly button bleeds

Everything you need to know when your belly button bleeds

2. Trauma

Trauma refers to any physical injury, whether by blunt force or by piercing, caused to the human body. If your belly button or its surrounding areas have been exposed to severe trauma, it may develop wounds. Sometimes, we notice significant damage to the area because of the formation of bruises. However, we may not be able to know of any indications of abrasions especially any damage on the inside walls. Any damaged tissue beneath your skin will begin to bleed or build up other material in an attempt to repair itself. The discharge of blood and dead tissue may escape through the belly button.

Again, because of the location of the belly button, any significant trauma to the area has the potential to severely compromise the organs located nearby, such as the bladder or the intestines. If the trauma causes bleeding, you must consult a doctor immediately.

3. Surgery

As previously mentioned, surgeons prefer to make their incisions in the belly button area because it can significantly reduce scarring. However, the wound may still open up and cause the belly button to bleed. Even if the surgery is not on an organ that's particularly close to the belly button (e.g., the gallbladder), the belly button may still be affected. It is important to tell your doctor about any post-surgery bleeding right away so that it can be properly assessed and treated.

4. Effect of Piercings

While this may not be too common, more cases have popped up in recent years because of the increase in demand for belly button piercing. While demand for belly button piercing may be higher, this does not mean that belly button piercing services are also better. Unhygienic or improper attachment of belly button piercing can cause severe irritation or infection. An example of this happening is that the piercing used was not sanitized or the one who attached the piercing had dirty hands. The belly button will become extremely irritated by the foreign object and will begin to bleed.

5. Urachal Cyst

A urachal cyst is a growth that is caused by conditions while still inside the mother's uterus. For an unborn fetus, the umbilical cord is attached to a small duct above the bladder. This allows the fetus to absorb nutrients while growing inside the mother's womb. This duct will eventually close up shortly before birth and the attached umbilical cord will be cut by the doctor or by the parents. There is a small but known possibility that the duct does not close over properly (or even close at all).

Because of this, the duct will swell. It will continue to grow as the human person grows outside the womb. A cyst forming in the swelling duct would allow the swelling to burst open, causing mucus, blood, and even urine to enter the open duct and exit through to the belly button. The fluid may also drain to the bladder or the abdomen. The discharged fluids can lead to severe bacterial infection within your body especially to your peritoneum, or the lining covering your internal organs in the abdomen.

To treat urachal cysts, doctors will usually drain the fluid out, perform surgery, and administer antibiotics.

6. Sebaceous Cyst

A sebaceous cyst, also known as a benign cyst, are keratin-containing cysts that can either grow from either inside the epidermis (the outer layer of skin) or in hair follicles. They are characterized by a large rotund lump that is usually tender to the touch. The only places that they certainly will not grow are on the feet and on the palms.

Sebaceous cysts are simply build-ups of tissues, fluids, and a pus-like fatty substance. They serve no real danger. When popped, they release these fluids entirely with added pressure. Doctors may even perform surgery to remove them completely. It is not advisable to pop any cyst as doing so will most likely lead to infections. Doctors are trained to disinfect the area prior to interfering with the cyst.

Because sebaceous cysts are not a manner of concern, they do not need to be treated. A special case, however, is when the sebaceous cysts begin to bleed. They normally do not pop on their own and bleeding is a sign of infection caused by friction or by scratching. A bacterial infection can significantly alter the contents of the cyst. At this point, it is advisable to go to the doctor to have the cyst removed and to be tested for bacterial infection.

7. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is an extremely painful disease that exclusively affects women. It is characterized by the displacement of the endometrium, which is a tissue that normally lines the uterus, to areas outside the uterus such as the abdomen or the ovaries. This can lead to infertility in almost half of affected women. Depending on the severity of the endometriosis, displaced tissue may even reach the arms or the lungs.

What makes the displaced tissues alarming is that they still respond to the body's menstrual cycle even if they are not located in the uterus anymore. Ordinary endometria lining the uterus will build up in time for menstruation and shed afterward. The waste exits through the vagina. The problem with displaced endometria is that the shed waste has no other place to go. This is why in cases where the displaced tissue is found near the abdomen, the buildup of blood and dead tissue will try to leave through the belly button.

So far, there is no known cure for endometriosis. However, medical professionals can appropriately address certain key factors leading to discomfort. Doctors can treat pain associated with endometriosis through surgery. This will also likely address infertility that affected women experience.

A summary of the seven possible causes is provided below.

Possible CauseDescription


It is an overgrowth of fungi or of bacteria on the skin that causes swelling and discharge of blood and other substances.


Severe external forces may have had created wounds or abrasions in the belly button that can allow blood to seep out.


A recent surgery in the area might cause an incision to bleed.

Effect of Piercings

Improper hygiene or improper application of belly button piercings can open up wounds in the belly button and lead to an infection.

Urachal Cyst

An unclosed remnant from prior to birth swells and can allow blood, mucus, and other substances to leak from it. The discharges exit through the belly button.

Sebaceous Cyst

A random cyst may have grown in the belly button area and any damage to it may lead to pain and discharge of blood and other substances.


Body tissue normally found inside a woman's uterus becomes displaced into the abdomen and nearby areas. Dead tissue and blood from these displaced linings of the uterus may escape through the belly button.

What's Next After Bleeding From the Belly Button?

It's important to first understand the possible causes of your condition. As a precautionary measure against infection, it is advisable to regularly clean the belly button area with soap and water. You must be careful, however, not to induce bleeding from the area.

While keeping this area clean is important in terms of prevention, there is no guarantee that the wound, cyst, etc., will heal on its own. Any current infection may spread inward to the abdomen or digestive tract. Instead of having one isolated problem, you may develop additional problems, such as difficulties in moving your bowels or urinating. Because of the belly button's location, any damage to it can easily lead to dangerous complications throughout your body.

This is why you should seek medical attention immediately. Doctors are professionally trained to assess your belly button and administer the relevant tests to determine the cause of bleeding. Methods have been developed to determine if there are any fungal or bacterial growths in your belly button area. If this is the case, the doctor can prescribe potent antibiotics depending on the type of microbe present. Additionally, doctors are trained to look beyond the skin and observe changes to the nearby areas of your belly button.

Seek professional intervention as soon as possible, even if it does not seem grave. Remember that the belly button should not be bleeding in the first place. Taken on its own, belly button bleeding is already a very serious condition. Do not wait for other symptoms to develop. The appearance of other symptoms, such as nausea or diarrhea, only means that you have allowed the underlying infection or condition to spread throughout your body. Be safe, and call your doctor right away.

Answer Key

Answer: E. There's no way to confirm without going to the doctor.

The seven possible causes listed above may not be enough to describe all cases of belly button bleeding. Severe complications with the digestive tract or of the reproductive system (especially if you are a woman) may cause blood to discharge out through the navel. It is important to remember that each case is different and that you should never self-medicate. Anti-fungal creams will not help if your problem is with a cyst.

Sources and Further Reading

  1. Healthline: Why Is Your Belly Button Bleeding?
  2. Healthline: Why Is My Newborn's Belly Button Bleeding?
  3. YouMeMindBody: Rash Around Belly Button: Causes and Treatment

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Tony roy on September 09, 2018:

I have a problem on a belly button it was bleeding from 3 months and it smells bad to what is the problem with my bellybutton

Marshall on June 06, 2018:

Thanks a lot guys, Really helpful stuff

Ali haider on July 27, 2017:

Very very nice and helpfull and in detailed by telling everythings and steps. Thanks