Why Does My Belly Button Discharge, Foul Smell Like Poop or Cheese ?

Discharge or a foul smell of any kind in the umbilical area (belly button) is always a sign of a complication. The least problematic of any other is hygiene. If your concern is simply a foul smell without discharge there needs to be an increase in physical hygiene. This may simply cover taking extra time when showering to clean an “innie” belly button.

If the fouls smell is accompanied by discharge of any color then this raises a bit more concern. In this article, you will read about the various possibilities of why you may have fouls cheesy smelling discharge or that smells like poop coming from you belly button.

This list is not complete and any diagnosis must be made by a physician. If you find any of the symptoms from any of the listed diagnosis you should seek medical assistance.

What is good umbilical hygiene ?

  • With each shower use soap with a wash rag and clean inside the belly button.
  • If your belly button has a cleft you need to clean behind the cleft area.
  • You can use Q-tips to clean hard to reach areas of the belly button.
  • Putting lotion inside the belly button is not recommended unless the skin is noted to be extra dry. This is because usually, the belly button is humid.


  • After showering be sure to dry the inside of the belly button well with a towel or a clean dry Q-tip.
  • After exercise or extreme sweating be sure to dry thin inside of the belly button.
  • Do not use perfumes or scented creams inside the belly button. This could irritate the tissue and cause open areas.
  • If you have done all the above and still note a foul cheesy, or poop like smell coming from your belly button you should seek medical attention.

Umbilical Concretion

  • This is a rare benign issue.
  • These do not usually occur for an outie belly button; on the contrary, they are usually found when one has a cleft or an extra deep belly button.
  • They usually are made of keratinaceous or sebaceous material. It may also contain hair and bacteria.
  • They usually have no other symptoms and may not even bother the patient.
  • Sometimes they may cause inflammation and if bothered they can cause infection.
  • On imaging they may appear like a malignant tumor, not showing enhancement or vascularization.
  • May be known as:
    • Omphalitis
    • Omphalokeratoliths
    • Omphalitis
    • Umboliths
  • The primary cause is poor umbilical hygiene.
  • They are treated simply by removal. (1)

Umbilical Concretion image

Umbilical Concretion picture


In this first image to the left, you can see a concretion that has been removed. They are usually hard on the outside and may be softer underneath and closer to the skin. The removal should be done by medical professionals to avoid injury to the umbilical area. Aftercare and good hygiene are of utmost import ants to prevent infection.

In the image to the right, you can see a concretion that is not showing inflammation and does not present with infection. Here the removal is not necessary but can be done for esthetic reasons. Obese patients must pay close attention to umbilical hygiene to prevent this from occurring.

Urachal Affections

  • These are rare abnormalities in the Urachal sinuses. The urachal sinuses are the areas between your bladder and belly button, right behind the dermal tissues.
  • These areas are formed while a fetus and should close up slightly before or after birth.
  • Normally these affections do not have a lot of symptoms or complications.
  • They happen because the fetal urachus does not close completely after birth.
  • Presenting symptom is discharge coming out of the belly button.
  • In the embryonic states, the fetus has the cloaca and allantois which helps attach the bladder to the umbilical cord for waste excretion.
  • Urachus occurs when this structure does not close before or after birth.
  • These afflictions may present in three levels:
    • Modified transitional epithelium
    • Fibro-connective tissue
    • Smooth muscle
  • Here are some different types, some of which are shown in the pictures below:
    • Patent urachus– this is when the whole structure does not close.
    • Urachal cyst– each end of the structure closes but the middle stays open.
    • Urachal sinus– actually drains out of the umbilicus.
    • Vesichourachal diverticulum– the far end is still connected to the bladder.
    • Alternating sinus– drains in both bladder and/or the umbilicus.
    • Urachal abscess– When one of these structures becomes infected with a form of bacteria. These bacteria’s may include and are not limited to:
      • E-coli
      • Enterococcus calcium
      • Strep
      • Proteus
      • Fusobacterium
      • Klebsiella pneumonia
  • There may not be any symptoms but if there are they will include and are not limited to the following:
    • Tender midline
    • Umbilical discharge
    • Umbilical infection causing a foul smell.
    • Can be diagnosed with ultrasound or CT scan.
  • Treatment is a no complicated removal of the structure. This depends greatly on if the structure is infected or if sepsis is noted.

bladder imageIn this first image to the left, you can see a urachal fistula as noted above. As you can see there is a structure completely open between the bladder and the belly button.

urethra pictureThe following is the description of the images:

  • 1 Bladder
  • 2 Urethra
  • 3 Urachus (fibrous relict of the allantois)
  • 4 Navel
  • 5 Umbilical cyst
  • 6 Urachal cysts
  • 7 Outflow of the urine onto the skin
  • 10 Uninterrupted urachal fistula.

In the next image to the right, you can see the cyst as discussed above. As mentioned it connects to the bladder and usually is not diagnosed until it causes infection and therefore smelly belly button discharge.

Laparoscopic complications

  • Post laparoscopic bowel surgery stomas which are derivative to the umbilical area can have various complications.
    • Peristomal skin changes
    • Umbilical stoma leakage
    • Minor skin irritation (5)

The first image here is showing that stomas made in the umbilicus are easier for the patient to reach and see. This will help with hygiene and therefore prevent complications or infections.

 stomas made in the umbilicus are easier for the patient to reach and see image

umbilical stoma in an obese patient picture

The second image is showing umbilical stoma in an obese patient. Again placing the stoma in the umbilical area can help obese patients with stoma hygiene.

Umbilical Endometriosis

  • This is a pretty uncommon type of endometriosis and is less than 5% of all cases.
  • Looks like a firm knot that is rubbery.
  • Could present with:
    • Bleeding
    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • These are usually noted during the menstrual cycle.
    • Treated with wide margin surgical excision.
    • Reoccurrence is uncommon.
    • If infected could present with a foul smell(6)

Pilonidal Sinus

  • Pilonidal sinus can occur in various areas, not only the belly button. This include:
    • Between the fingers
    • Penial area
    • Buttocks
    • Under the arms or armpits
  • Symptoms are:
    • Pain
    • Scaling
    • Swelling
    • Purulent or thick discharge
  • They are caused by the hair being moved or pressured which then punctures the skin.
  • They happen in the belly button due to its shape and because the area can sometimes be moist.
  • The best treatment is good umbilical hygiene as discussed in the beginning of the article.
  • At times surgical interventions may be needed.
  • Most commonly occur in obese patients. This may be due to hygiene issues.(7)

In conclusion, there are many common and uncommon reasons for foul-smelling discharge coming from the belly button area. This discharge may smell like rotten cheese or poop. The list stated above is far from comprehensive and other reasons could include simple issues such as infected piercings or infected injuries.

infected-belly-button-piercing image

Infected belly button piercing

In this article, you read about some of the more uncommonly reported reasons for smelly belly button discharge such as Umbilical concretion, Urachal affections, Laparoscopic complications, and Pilonidal sinus.

The information on this diagnosis is not complete. So, if you note any of the symptoms discussed in this article you should consult your physician for proper follow up.


  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3303438/
  2. http://www.embryology.ch/anglais/turinary/patholurinary07.html
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3196200/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4370532/
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241485/
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3077181/
Why Does My Belly Button Discharge, Foul Smell Like Poop or Cheese ?
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Published on by under Diseases and Conditions.
Article was last reviewed on September 26th, 2017.

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