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Navel infection: causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The navel is a scar found in the middle part of the abdomen; it occurs after the newborn ruptures the umbilical cord. The navel can become infected at any age, although it occurs most frequently in childhood and within a few days of birth.

The navel infection is medically called omphalitis, and its appearance is usually the product of poor hygiene or irritation in the umbilical area due to the rubbing of clothing. If discomfort arises in the area, it is an indication that something is happening. When this happens, it is necessary to go to the doctor for an evaluation and an accurate diagnosis.

In this FastlyHealarticle, we explain in detail the causes of navel infection and what medical treatment should be followed in each case.

Causes of infection in the navel

The causes that generate the appearance of an infectious process in the navel can be several; among them are:

  • Inadequate hygiene when handling the navel: this area of ​​the body is exposed to constant heat and sweat, making it easy to contact microorganisms that can cause infections.
  • Irritation of the area where the navel is located: this can be caused by the constant friction of fabrics such as synthetics or by a button on the shirt in the umbilical area, leading to infection and suppuration of the navel.
  • The births or births outside hospitals or health centers where they do not comply with measures of asepsis and antisepsis to carry out this type of intervention is another cause because it could generate an infectious process in the navel of the newborn born.
  • Another cause of navel infection in children is premature delivery caused by a condition of the placental membranes and amniotic fluid, leading to a severe illness in the baby. This disease is not very common. However, it can occur.
  • In adults, diseases such as epidermal cyst, umbilical hernia, or endometriosis in women can generate an infectious process in the umbilical region.

Symptoms of the infection in the navel

Some symptoms can help you identify that you are in the presence of an infection in the navel; some of them are:

  • Redness of the umbilical region.
  • It is swelling in the navel.
  • Heat in the umbilical area.
  • Fluid drainage in the navel with a bad smell.

Infection in the baby’s belly button

Navel infection in newborns usually occurs between 5 and 10 days after birth. In this first stage of their life, in addition to the symptoms previously described, they may also present the following:

  • Low-grade fever or fever
  • Decay.
  • Refusal of food.
  • Irritability.
  • Vomiting

Infection in the navel occurs after contamination by microbes found in the birth canal and even in the hands of caregivers.

In newborns, the immune system is immature; due to this, they are defenseless against any infection, which could cause severe consequences if these bacteria reach the bloodstream of the newborn, generating sepsis, which is the most severe complication of omphalitis.

In these cases, the evaluation by the pediatrician is necessary, who will be in charge of indicating the treatment that the child or newborn needs according to the symptoms they present.

Navel infection in adults

In adults, infection in the umbilicus can be recurrent; it is often related to inadequate hygiene of the umbilical region; in addition, some diseases that have not been adequately diagnosed can give rise to the appearance of an infection in the navel.

Likewise, incomplete closure of the urachus, the duct that connects the bladder with the umbilicus, can generate some infection. This duct must be closed at the time of birth and becomes a ligament; its persistence can cause urine to come out through the navel.

On the other hand, as we have commented previously, diseases such as epidermal cyst, umbilical hernia, or endometriosis can lead to an infection in the navel in adults.

How to cure a navel infection: medical treatment

If it is a mild infection in children or newborns, it should be treated with local antiseptics, as well as by applying topical antibiotics. These medications should always be placed under the supervision of the pediatrician.

In the case of a moderate or severe infection, the child will need to be hospitalized in a hospital center with intravenous treatment based on antibiotics such as cloxacillin or an aminoglycoside.

Treatment of navel infection in adults includes oral antibiotics, in addition to taking proper hygienic measures to keep the navel area clean. If necessary, the doctor will order antiseptic or antibiotic ointments.

Can a navel infection be prevented?

Infection in the navel can be prevented; this is important in children since their lives may be at risk.

The navel should be kept clean, dry, and disinfected with each diaper change with soap and water in the minor case.

Likewise, frequent diaper changes are recommended to avoid humidity and the proliferation of microorganisms that trigger an infectious process.

If it is an adult, it is necessary to wash the navel well at the time of the shower and dry it correctly to avoid humidity.

You can apply a cotton ball impregnated with tea tree oil; this is left to act for a few minutes, then it is removed so that the area can be washed and even dried well.

If you notice that your belly button or that of your child is red, hot, and oozing some liquid, it is time to go to the doctor; after an evaluation, he will indicate the treatment according to the symptoms that you present, in addition to the hygienic measures that you should have to care for the umbilical area.


This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Navel infection: causes and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Skin, hair and nails category .

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